The music industry today isn’t what it once was. Back in the day, the dream of making it big wasn’t only about releasing great music and touring, it was also about fame, making big bucks and become economically independent. Houses, cars, motorcycles, parties, women and all the drink and drugs you could imagine was almost as big a dream as releasing the album that everybody and their mother loved. Today, no musician is naïve enough to even imagine becoming a millionaire from making music. Today you’re lucky if you can live an endurable life on music alone, but very often you need a job on the side as well. As much as I believe that hard-working musicians deserve all the fortunes they could make, this also makes sure that young aspiring musicians are in the business for the right reason – the music. This also means that the gold-diggers and wannabes won’t even bother and voila, goodbye to shit music.
That’s why it’s so awesome that young rockers still decides that music is what they wanna do and new bands keeps popping up almost as frequent as back in the day – a good sign indeed. London rockers City Of Thieves are such a band. Formed in 2015 by bassist and vocalist Jamie Laylie, guitarist Ben Austwick and drummer Will Richards, the guys released a five-track EP and went out playing for their lives. With an additional guitarist in Adam Wardie, the guys are now back with a full-length album. Signed to Frontiers, the band brought in producer and label mate Toby Jepson (Wayward Sons, Ex- Little Angels, Fastway, Gun) and also managed to get legendary studio wizard Mike Fraser (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Metallica, AC/DC, Slipknot) who described the band very short – “killer band, killer songs”. Kind of speaks volumes when it comes from a dude who have worked with a long list of legendary artists.
Opener and latest single “Reality Bites” is an edgy, heavy and aggressive rocker that lands somewhere between Classic Rock and Hard Rock and throws fat guitars, a Hammond and kick-ass beat in our faces. Filled with piss n’ vinegar and lots of attitude, this tune also contains a damn fine, in-your-face refrain that hits where it should. “Fuel And Alcohol” comes in uptempo and brings on a sleazy and rowdy vibe and does its best to beat the living daylight of the listener. The tune comes across as a drunken mix of Mötley Crüe and Airbourne, very robust and kicking. First single “Buzzed Up City” is a dirty, riff-happy and crunchy rock and roll stomper with a good punch. It’s straight-up Hard Rock without any squiggle. It’s an ok tune but it doesn’t stick with me and I’m thinking it’s a strange – and even wrong – single choice.
“Control” comes across like a sleazier AC/DC with some Kix and Dead Daisies thrown in for good measure. It’s a rough and crunchy belter that scratches and bites all the way through. It’s an ok tune but it’s a bit forgettable at the end of the day. “Incinerator” takes the same path – attitude-laden, rhythmic and ready to kick-ass, it’s a bit slower in pace, though. Again, it’s a good, meaty tune but it doesn’t stick with me. “Animal” is a primitive, fast-paced, fist-on-the-jaw rocker – aggressive, rough and direct but once again, no matter how much I love the rawness, it’s only ok and doesn’t last afterwards. “Right To Silence” brings on some fat guitar riffs, a steady groove brought to life by a thunderous rhythm section, very heavy and ballsy. It’s also a catchy fekker which makes this one a real killer. “Born To Be Great” upbeat, punchy and in-your-face but also very memorable with a poppy swagger and a refrain that sticks right off the bat – a brilliant tune with hit potential. Single?
“Damage” is a cocksure and rowdy sleazerocker that sure kicks up some dust. It’s raunchy and dirty but with shitloads of hooks added, a bouncy swagger and a chorus that will never let go once it’s stuck – very, very good. “Give It Away” is a fuel-injected blues-boogie rocker in a faster tempo that holds a middle-finger-up attitude and a biting rhythm with the purpose of raising some hell. And raise hell it does, however the song feels like it’s created for that purpose only and I miss hooks and catchiness. It’s not bad but it fails to stick. Closing track “Something Of Nothing” sounds like the bastard child of The Dead Daisies and The New Roses with some chunky AC/DC riffing and some pop-laden melodies all over it. It holds a chorus that could very well cross over to fans that holds Melodic Rock dear. A brilliant closer that’s very memorable.
At the core, City Of Thieves are a Classic Rock band but with a more aggressive and raw outlook. The production is very down-to-earth and rootsy with no unnecessary extras – guitars, bass and drums is very much enough for these guys, thank you very much. It do come with some flaws, though. While there aren’t any bad songs on the album at all, there’s still a few forgettable songs too many – sometimes it feels like the band have concentrating on attitude and rawness so much that the actual song-writing suffered by it. That said, there are a whole lot of killer songs on here as well – and the band sure is one I’d love to catch live, I have a feeling this band will kill from the stage. This is a good record from a good band with loads of potential. But will they ever make it big? I really can’t see why not.
1. Reality Bites
2. Fuel And Alcohol
3. Buzzed Up City
4. Lay Me To Waste
8. Right To Silence
9. Born To Be Great
11. Give It Away
12. Something Of Nothing