Beverly Killz – Gasoline & Broken Hearts

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Review by Brian McGowan

The band name; the album title; the label (Perris).

You get what you expect. And then some.

Judging by this impressive debut, Beverly Killz are elbowing their way to the front of a seemingly endless line of rising rock bands. Bands who see the music of the seventies and the eighties as fertile ground,  filled with rich pickings, worthy of exploration and exploitation.

Arguably, the popularity – among rock bands – of that era’s mix of classic and trashy, disposable rock comes from a desire – subliminal or otherwise – to create an antidote to today’s complicated times, taking us back to an era where teenage angst manifested itself in the form of banners and marches, instead of facing down the PSU on city streets.

It’s music that bursts from the heart, full bodied, full blooded, full of anguish, regret and romantic notions.  There’s an innocence and a raw talent working hand in hand here, rendering ‘Gasoline & Broken Hearts’ a charmingly artless, unrefined tilt at the rock‘n‘roll windmill.

The lyrics could do with a bit of directness. Much of the metaphor is mealy mouthed and should have been confiscated at the door by the label’s QA enforcer. In fact, it quickly becomes clear, despite their best efforts (and the very occasional nicely turned phrase) that English is their second language (they are an Italian band). Doesn’t make them bad people of course, just… ambitious.

While the ‘Guns, Aerosmith, Crue influences are clear from the macho posturing on opener, ‘Never Back Down’ onwards, they sound like they may have the nous to carve out their own niche.

The ubiquitous, multi skilled producer / mixer Dennis Ward obviously thought so, as he has lent his hand at the mixing desk. Ward knows that the less-is-more dynamic works, especially in the sleaze / hard rock genre. Where too many bands opt for bombast, Ward approximates the leaner, hungrier seventies aesthetic. Where the song needs emphasis, he peels back the power chords and thumping rhythms till a raw, pugnacious sound is revealed.

Vocalist, Vince (why do the members of these bands only have one name?) hasn’t the most distinctive voice, but on tracks that unashamedly plunder the past like ‘Livin & Dyin’ and ‘Baby You’re On Target’ he carries the day with a combination of attitude and style. What it lacks in power, it makes up for in passion.

Elsewhere, ‘Sin City‘ and ‘Power Of Your Sex’ nail the stomping, chest beating hard rock sound of the eighties, full of gang vocals and rattling rhythms, with jagged guitar chunks bubbling up through the mix.

The band’s stack heeled cowboy boots remain firmly planted in that decade with ‘Riding Alone’ (mercifully, not on “steeds of steel”) and ‘Keep Away From Danger’. The latter cuts against the sleaze/glam/mhr grain, sounding much like it’s been rescued by an AOR SWAT team, who’ve swooped down on a bunch of Phantoms Opera and Prophet albums to liberate the track.

No, Gasoline & Broken Hearts is not cutting edge and it’s lyrically flawed, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in booming bravado and resoundingly good tunes.

It’s been said before – and will no doubt be said again – just because you’re joining the dots doesn’t mean you’re not creating a pretty picture.

7 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Never Back Bown
  2. Away From Danger
  3. Baby You’re On Target
  4. Dark Lady
  5. Livin’ And Dyin’
  6. Riding Alone
  7. For Love
  8. Power Of Your Sex
  9. Sin City
  10. In Sorrow
  11. What Is Love