Friday, December 2, 2011


(c) 2011 Retrospect Records

  1. Big Apple Baby
  2. White. Line. Fever
  3. Say Anything
  4. Heartbreaker
  5. Little Hearts
  6. Red Clay
  7. Party Girls (Can I Be Your Man)
  8. Gone
  9. Dirty Girl
  10. Lucielle
  11. Saigon Lullaby
  12. ...At Least The Rolling Stones Still Make Me Smile
Shawn Perry--Vocals, Guitar
Corey Linden--Guitar, Backing Vocals
Russ Richards--Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Spider Lane--Bass, Backing Vocals
Scott Dall--Drums, Backing Vocals

Yes!  Now this is a modern band with a totally retro sound that GETS IT!  Switchblade Scarlett is not some poser band that is trying to sound like what they interpret late-70's to mid-80's hard rock to sound like...they nail it!  Sure, the production is of the modern era, and we don't have any vinyl pop and hiss here, but who cares?  I can say without hesitation that Switchblade Scarlett is a very serious threat to crack my year-end top ten with White.Line.Fever.  It's that good...

"Big Apple Baby" starts things off with a hard rocking 1970's-styled vibe based around a banging snare drum and a cool guitar lick...then Perry's vocals kick in.  To me, he sounds like an angry Tom Keifer (Cinderella) or Dizzy Dean Davidson (Britny Fox) crossed with Jesse James Dupree from Jackyl, and he has a lot of sass and attitude to his style that is really impressive from note one.  This is one seriously rocking song that had me grinning right from the start.  The album's title track, "White.Line.Fever" (not the Merle Haggard country song) follows and brings a bit of a more glammed out 70's sound, handclaps and all.  It's a pretty simple, straight-forward song, but it is, once again, a very catchy song, this time about a heroin addict that people are trying to encourage to quit.  The guitar solo in this song just reeks of 1978 and is very cool, although it is a bit too short for my tastes.  "Say Anything" continues the party, although Switchblade Scarlett brings things a bit more into the hard rocking 80's with this song, approaching a hair metal sound here, which they pull off equally well.  Again, a nice guitar solo is utilized here, and Perry really...REALLY...cleans up the snarl from his vocals, almost sounding like a completely different singer other than in spots on the chorus.

"Heartbreaker" is a very cool, harder-edged cover of the Pat Benatar classic that really showcases not only the talent of this band, but also shows where their heads are genuinely at musically.  They pull off this cover without a flaw and manage to make it their own while still retaining the style and sound of the original.  This is one of the best covers I have heard in quite some time, and this is coming from a guy that gets WAY TOO MANY covers albums sent my way!

These first four songs, the cover included, really give the listener a feel for the way the rest of the album is going to run its course, treading the line between modernized classic 70's hard rock ("Party Girls","Little Hearts")  and slightly commercial 80's hard rock ("Red Clay", "Gone", "Lucielle", "Saigon Lullaby").  The disc only slows down one time with "Red Clay", and even that isn't a ballad as much as it's a mid-tempo rocker with a big solo and Perry again shifting between clean and snarled vocals.       

The only real snag here is the last song, as "...At Least The Rolling Stones Still Make Me Smile" is something of a throwaway acoustic, bluesy number that will remind people a lot of some of the stuff Tesla has done.  Does that mean I don't like Tesla?  Absolutely not!  Love them, in fact.  I just don't really think this particular song fits the rest of the album and I kept waiting for the song to drop the acoustic vibe and really punch things into gear.  It's not terrible, it's just a let down after such a solid, full-throttle album full of hard-rocking guitars, snarling vocals, and catchy hooks.  Maybe it will grow on me with time...

To me, this project is everything bands like The Darkness tried to be...and failed at.  Swichblade Scarlett wears the stripes of their influences proudly and have a lot of fun playing the music they obviously love.  These five guys from Ohio are a band that I am definitely going to keep an eye and ear out for because I think they have the potential to be the next Jet or Silvertide...only better! 

Rating:  Crank White.Line.Fever to 9 and party down, folks!  This is some killer stuff!

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