What is it with Axl Rose and guitar players with weird names? I mean, first he hired a dude with a mask and KFC (that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken, peeps….) bucket on his head, hence his name Buckethead. Then the KFC dude didn’t want to play with ole Axe anymore so Axe hired this dude named Bumblefoot. Wow! The name Bumblefoot is not even close to being as weird as Buckethead, but weird it sure is. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to bother with this album at all, because being the lone reviewer on this site and lots of bands got the idea that releasing albums in January and February was a really awesome idea and all this takes a lot of time, not just to write the reviews but also listen to the albums carefully so that they’re given a fair shot. But this agent dude sent me this link and would I want to review this guy Bumblefoot’s album? Well, I had never heard anything by the guy and I didn’t know anything about the guy except his involvement in Axl Roses’s band (yeah, he likes to call it Guns N’ Roses, but I sure won’t!) and that his real name is Ron Thal. What’s wrong with that name, I’m clueless of and I also has no idea why Bumblefoot is a better name than Ron Thal. Oh well, the more I thought about it, the more interested I got. As I said, I haven’t really heard anything by the man, so why not take the chance and see if his music has any relevance at all. Well, as long it’s good, it has relevance, so it really could be cool to take a listen. A quick google tells me that the guy’s real name is actually Ronald Jay Blumenthal, he’s 45 years old (born in 1969) and he has been releasing records since 1995 – three under the name of Ron Thal, eight albums including this under the name of Bumblefoot, one album with Axl N’ Roses and one album with Tony Harnell (ex-TNT) and the Wildflowers. Add to it, he has digitally released 9 songs – that’s another album right there if he wanted to. I had no idea about all of this, the Ron is obviously one creative guy. All of this made me real interested and curious of the guy. How do a guy named sound, then? Let’s check it out!
“Clots” is the name of the opener and it is a nice little punk-pop song that reminds me of Green Day. Also, bits of the vocal melody has some really strong resemblance to Ramones’ “Sheena Is A Punkrocker”. It’s a good song, but a little too much American punk-pop for me.The title track is really good, a heavy rocker with some progressive undertones and a really catchy melody. “Argentina” is more on the melodic hard rock progressive side and I find myself thinking about Winger of today when I hear this – brilliant song! Progressive seems to be the key word when it comes to Thal’s music. Even the ballad “Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore” has some strong progressive elements. There are also some really cool hooks here and the chorus is very catchy. Bumblefoot’s unpredictable musical journey continues with the brilliant “Livin’ The Dream” where melodic rock goes progressive and there are some nice Beatles influences thrown in as well. “Cuterebra” makes me think of a carnival or an amusement park in the beginning, but the whole song has some major 60’s influences and I hear a lot of Bigelf in this track – that’s a compliment, I might add. “Higher” makes think of Saigon Kick, if you remember them. I love that band which means that I love this song as well. The song has an addictive groove, a magnificent melody and the riffs and the chorus are both very memorable and catchy. “Women Rule The World” is the most straight forward song on this album. I believe that every album needs one of those – the straight forward hardrocker that only has one agenda – to rock hard and kick ass. This song does that! The Beatles goes hard rock in “Sleepwalking” is just awesome and the song has a melody that just won’t leave my head. “Eternity” is a half-ballad with a 50’s music vibe. I hear influences from Queen and – this is probably just a coincidence – Sixx A.M. No matter what, it’s a really good song. With the closing track, “Never Again”, Bumble brings back the pop-punk and mixes it with some fast hard rock. This time it works much better and this sounds way more authentic than the opener. See, I can appreciate a pop-punk song, every now and again.
I had no expectations what so ever on this album. I didn’t know if this album would contain jazz, death metal, tango, dance music or what ever, so it was a nice feeling when it turned out that the album didn’t contain one bad track. The music is very varied and the whole thing is very unpredictable, but things never gets schizophrenic or ultra weird – you can always hear that it’s the same artist on every song. The music is based on heavy rock and all of the tracks has progressive elements, but I wouldn’t call this a progressive rock album. At least not the way Dream Theater, Transatlantic and Shadow Gallery does it. One thing I really like a bout the album is that even though it’s progressive and unpredictable, the songs are all pretty easy listened without being cringing or cheesy, but you do get them pretty much right away. The album is also a grower and you hear new things all the time, something I find really cool. Thal also happens to be a really good singer and a fun and challenging guitar player, another thing that keeps this album interesting. If you – like me – hasn’t heard this guy before, take a chance a listen to this record. I know I won’t stop listening to it anytime soon.
P.S. Watch out for Bumblefoot’s new band, Art Of Anarchy, that he has with former Stone Temple Pilots / Velvet Revolver singer Scott Weiland, John Moyer (Adrenaline Mob, Disturbed) and twins Jon (guitar) and Vince (drums) Votta! D.S.
Jon Wilmenius (8/10)
02. Little Brother Is Watching
04. Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore
05. Livin’ The Dream
08. Women Rule The World
11. Never Again