The High Strung know a bit about rock’n’roll.
This is the band, of course, that drove their old ‘graffiti
splashed rolling shit-house’ of a tour bus not to a scrapheap,
but up two flights of steps to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame
and Museum in Cleveland, because after clocking up 318,000
miles they figured, with some logic, that it deserved to be
there. But, as anyone who has ever heard The High Strung will
testify, there’s more to them than daft antics and the equally
daft notes that accompany them ("don’t you worry about
any potential towing costs, the keys are in the ignition" indeed!!).
And for those of you haven’t heard them, this is probably an
ideal place to start.
Initially I had reservations about this album though. I loved the sound they’ve gone for here. Producer Jim Diamond has done a great job, with the bass in particular benefiting from a meaty, growling sound. My concerns, however, were with the songs as they didn’t seem as
memorable this time round. There certainly didn’t appear to be anything as catchy as, say, The World's Smallest Violin, but repeated plays show there’s some decent material here, too.
In particular, tracks that I was initially less keen on, such as Seems It’s
One Thing, which sounded messy on early listen with its stop/start feel and
busy drumming, and the album's closer, The Gentleman, with its slightly
deranged fade-out, have proved to be real growers. One track I loved straight
away though was the album's opening track Never Saw It As Union with a
great dirty bass riff care of Chad Stocker and its The Move-like "she knows,
she knows" chorus. It’s definitely one of the stand-outs for me, and is a cracking
way to start an album.
Other highlights include A Real Meal Ticket, one of a couple of tracks here where singer Josh Maleman sounds like uncannily like Placebo’s Brian Molko, the altogether slower N Over C with its “if your love should ever stop growing” hookline, and Deck The Boy With Mettle And Manhood, which finds drummer Derek Berk providing a real stompy feel to proceedings. Perhaps best of all for me though is On Your Feet, which almost sounds like a modern day glam anthem, marrying as it does a Molko-like voice to a real T.Rex swagger.
So, after initial reservations, another triumph. The High Strung’s "donation"
to the Hall of Fame was "a multicoloured beast of a vehicle". Their gift
to the rest of us is a slightly less poppy than usual set which repays repeated