The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world





JUNE 10 2014



sim·plic·i·ty noun \sim-ˈpli-sə-tē, -ˈplis-tē\

: the new album by TESLA
: the quality of being easy to understand or use
: the state or quality of being plain or not fancy or complicated
: something that is simple or ordinary but enjoyable


Tesla is a band that for a long time has resonated deeply with me, from listening to that first album ‘Mechanical Resonance’ all those years ago to following them as their music evolved over the years and seeing them over a dozen times in four different continents, there was always something special, primal and undefinable about the band.


Tesla is also a band that cherishes their fans, an honest, working class band that understands what it’s like to work hard to make a living. There’s also been an honesty and a hope about the band too wearing jeans and t-shirts at the height of eighties glam, and singing about the bigger things in life along with the rock and roll. When I first heard the song ‘What You Give’ from the excellent ‘Great Radio Controversy’ I knew it would stay with me forever, as more than a song, as a mantra. Over the years the band has never let me down. It’s been far too long since their last release…


‘Simplicity’ is the album that we need, dealing lyrically as it does with everything from the modern world, life on the road, love, loss and all of life’s ups and downs. It even touches on spirituality, hippies and weed, with profound touches here and there to counterbalance the sense of humour the band has always had.


At fourteen songs it’s also a hefty document of where the band is at currently, and first scanning the track list I was a little surprised that the 2013 stop-gap single ‘Taste My Pain’ wasn’t on there, it was after all an excellent song. Did that mean that these 14 were better?


The opening to first track ‘MP3’ has a burst of trademark guitar before setting up a great groove before Jeff Keith bemoans a world out of touch with reality ridden with technology and lacking simplicity and heart. It’s a great way to open and segues nicely into ‘Ricochet’; a hard rock tale of life on the road. ‘Rise and Fall’ adds a shot of mythology with its opening apocalyptic vision and sounds like proto-Aerosmith circa 1973 before first single ‘So Divine’ really grabs you by the front of the (t)shirt. It’s the sort of song Tesla has made their staple over the years – a simple acoustic intro and vocal before the guitar chimes in and lifts the song to another level entirely before easing back again to deliver another low key verse. Add to the mix a killer solo and you have Tesla of the highest order. This is the way we like our Hard Rock.


The songs from ‘Simplicity’ found their genesis on Tom Zutaut’s Virginian ranch over a number of weeks and were laid down and refined at Brian Wheat’s Sacramento recording studio and finally mixed by Michael Wagener.  It’s that immediacy of recording that adds a lot of the power here.


Slower, keys-led number ‘Cross My Heart’ has a groove worthy of early Black Crowes and tells the tale of a musician on the road proclaiming his faithfulness to the girl he’s left at home. It’s perfectly placed in the track-listing to take the foot off the gas, and has enough of the barroom blues about it to suggest it will be a great part of the live set.   


Slower number ‘Honestly’ is another Tesla classic that builds beautifully and then ebbs again into a plaintive plea for understanding. It’s another killer tune. Next up ‘Flip Side’ which marks the midway point of the album looks at the dualities of life (something echoed on the later ‘Life is a River’) in a bluesy number that relies on voice and guitar juxtaposed with a harder guitar line in the chorus. It’s the sort of raw sound that to some will sound unfinished but will delight others who love that stripped back early Aerosmith sound.    


The track that follows: ‘Other Than Me’ is a beautiful, simple ballad that tells a tale of one-sided love; before ‘Break of Dawn’ brings back that heavy guitar and takes us back to where the album began sonically with Keith’s unique delivery underlining the deep groove. ‘Burnout to Fade’ is another satisfying slow number that sounds like a radio single if I ever heard one; but it’s ‘Life is a River’ that is one of the real standouts both lyrically and musically -  a beautiful meditation on letting life just flow that has an almost Beatles-like insistence and beauty. It’s certainly one of our favourites here and bound to become a live staple.


It’s at this point that you realise that sometimes 14 songs isn’t enough. There may well be almost enough here for two quality releases but putting so much quality out in one hit means you will be listening to this for some time to come. ‘Sympathy’ heralds the run-out with a burst of controlled power – it’s a song that smoulders before bursting into life, riding some wonderful guitar. Penultimate track ‘Time Bomb’ is an equally impressive song of defiance and closing track ‘’Till That Day’ takes the mood down a notch again to leave us with what is a very satisfying listen.


It’s been a helluva ride and one that puts this release right up there, top of the pile - best of the year so far. Tesla in ‘Simplicity’ has captured the essence of the band far better than on recent releases. This one is up there with their very best. If you think Hard Rock is only Rock and Roll, listen to Tesla… 



SIMPLICITY: the new TESLA album.

Tour Dates:
Tesla "Simplicity" 6/10/14 iTunes Pre-Order:



by Mark Diggins