Rather like The Darkness and Steel Panther, you kind of wonder just how seriously to take Cincinnati five-piece, FOXY SHAZAM! Unlike the former two however, I love these guys. Their music is so different to anything I’d normally listen to and simply just brightens up even the most dreicht and miserable, grey of days here in Glasgow!
An album as extrovert and extravagant as FOXY SHAZAM’S eponymous (UK) album debut really merits a similarly styled gushing and ‘over the top’ review. And that’s pretty much what the next few paragraphs will amount to, though please remember that I’m a grumpy old Scotsman, and as a race we don’t generally do ‘gushing’ so well!
Billed as a ‘rock ‘n’ soul’ band, it’s easy to see why FOXY SHAZAM have been pigeon-holed thus – although just about every style of genre you could name is also thrown into the mix somewhere throughout these eleven tracks.
Following a brief (dog and band barking) Intro, the album careers headlong into ‘Bombs Away,’ which pretty much sets the tone for the following forty-five minutes. Dynamic vocalist Eric Nally lets out a loud scream and we’re off. This is ostensibly and predominately a bit of a rocker with added trumpet beefing up the sound. Eric’s vocals are strong and powerful, and even before you watch a video of the band, you just get the feeling that he is some type of Freddie Mercury reincarnation, with his dramatic and theatrical delivery.
‘Wanna-Be Angel’ is piano led with loud, vibrant gang-styled backing vocals and ‘Count Me Out,’ like just about every other track will have you singing along to this tale of love going wrong. ‘Bye Bye Symphony’ is about as moody a track as you’ll find on this album. It has a bluesy edge to it, but still retains Eric’s extravagant delivery with the backing as loud and dramatic.
‘Unstoppable’ (video below) has a real Seventies styled Glam stomp to it, and if you were wondering if anyone could legitimately be compared to Queen’s frontman (forget Mika!) then this song should convince you. ‘Second Floor’ starts out slowly, but quickly builds into a powerful pop song. Every album has its ‘best’ and ‘worst’ tracks. This one has no ‘bad’ or ‘weak’ tracks, but ‘Second Floor’ is the one that probably leaves the least impression. (Still good, though.)
‘Oh Lord!’ was the band’s debut single here in the UK. It is reviewed within the ‘Pop / Other Singles’ category, where the video has also been posted. It’s apparently a song written to Eric’s young son, warning of the world in which he will have to grow up in. As an introduction to the band, it is a great single release and just why I haven’t yet heard this on national daytime radio completely baffles me.
Throughout the album so far, there have been glimpses of Gospel filtering through, but it is on ‘Connect’ that this comes to the fore, set against a hip-hop beat! ‘The Only Way To My Heart’ has the ‘Big Band’ sound and drama of a movie soundtrack – like some weird situation where James Bond meets Jessica Rabbit or something equally unconventional.
‘Killin’ It’ sounds familiar at the outset, (try Billy Joel’s ‘My Life,’) but it soon develops the FOXY SHAZAM trademark sound… whatever that is!!? Closing track ‘Evil Thoughts’ slows the pace somewhat, with heavy piano and Eric’s powerful vocals eventually accompanied with some lovely harmonies as it builds into a warm and anthemic conclusion to the album. It shows a more serious side to the band’s music – that they do have more to them than may initially seem.
I absolutely defy anyone with any soul at all not to like / love this album, no matter their preferred musical style / genre. And why the mainstream radio stations are not all over FOXY SHAZAM beats the hell out of me. You want power? – You got it. You want hooks? – By the shed load! You want anthems? – Every damn one! You want fun? – You better believe it!
If this album fails to have you dancing round your bedroom, or at least posing, pouting and belting the songs out in front of your bathroom mirror, then Music just ain’t for you. Go read a book!
(Released through Sire Records on 11th October 2010)
(10 / 10)