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BLACKRAIN - RELEASED -Review

UDR | Release Date: March 25th 2016




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I like France’s BlackRain, who seem to be the head of the pack flying the Gallic Sleaze Rock flag these days. And his new album ‘Released’ comes with a certain expectation after increasing returns over the years. Recorded in LA and Paris in the early part of 2015 and songs were selected by Jack from tons of demos after weeks of listening to get just the right songs for the record.


Whilst their early output had been great in places it had always lacked a certain consistency that finally came with third album ‘It Begins’ which showed more mature song-writing, more Hard Rock rather than pure Sleaze creeping into the sound along with far better production (courtesy of Jack Douglas producer of Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, John Lennon  and New York Dolls). Having said that this type of music isn’t rocket science, you’re not going to hear anything you haven’t heard before but if the cards fall right we’ll have a damned good party listening!


First impressions do count for a lot when you listen to as much music as I do and so ‘Back in Town’ does put me in rather a good mood as it blasts out of the speakers. It’s simple, it’s catchy and as the first single it rocks suitably to draw you in before ‘Mind Control’ jumps out on you with its harder edges and almost Scorpions-like attack.


The tempo drops slightly for the mid-tempo ‘Killing Me’ before the thick grooves of ‘Run Tiger Run’ kick in and rub up against the restrained almost ‘AC/DC meets 80’s pop rock’ power of ‘Puppet on a String’ nicely. It’s a great start to an album that’s already shown plenty of control and variety.    


‘Words Ain’t Enough’ shows yet another side to the band and introduces the acoustic guitar, it’s a song that works well and certainly suits the band. Though as the fairground opening to ‘Eat You Alive’ kicks in, you wonder what’s going on: it’s a song that almost works but is held back by the circus sonic clichés. It’s at this point the album drops off a little with the slower ‘Home’ rather like a washed out take on ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine, but not quite getting there despite some great melodies and an almost Mott The Hoople like sound. ‘For Your Love’ is the cover of the Graham Gouldman-penned Yardbirds song and just tries too hard – sure it’s sonically interesting, lots of light and shade and showcases the band’s musicianship but the (again) clichéd ‘dirty vocal’ stabs just don’t work. Despite that sidestep you have to commend the band for a few left-field moves and admire the self-belief.     


‘Fade to Black’ gets us back on track with a nice slow-tempo piano-led rocker that picks up the pace nicely for a great sing-along chorus, before the almost ‘pop’ ‘Electric Blue’ changes things up again taking you back to the days of The Shangri-La’s and Ronettes or maybe later Rocky Horror. It’s a cool song if a little left field.


 The album rounds out with the power-Punk Sleaze of ‘Rock My Funeral’ which raises the pulse and works really well, before closing track ‘One Last Prayer’ leaves you with the feeling that the experimentation on this album hasn’t yet run its course. It’s a great slow power ballad that has some real emotion and a surprising chorus that again has a sort of Rocky Horror vibe.  


Sure there are elements of Hair Metal and Sleaze Rock to BlackRain, along with a punky edge and a great pop sensibility. If you compare them to some of the other frontrunners of the genre though like Reckless Love for example who have gone far more Europop, BlackRain seem to be street ahead.


This is different, it’s not straight Sleaze anymore and the more I listen to it the more I want. This is the album that elevates these Frenchmen to another level entirely.  

 

by Mark Rockpit

 

 


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