BUCKCHERRY – CONFESSIONS

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by Brian McKinny

Buckcherry is an L.A. sleaze rock band that got its start emulating bands the likes of Guns & Roses, Motley Crüe, and L.A. Guns, and not much has changed with Buckcherry since the beginning.  The unusual Christian-themed album covers on ‘Confessions’ gave me pause because, let’s face it…  Buckcherry isn’t exactly the church-going kind of band…  However, this album does something that no other Buckcherry album has ever done before: it feels and sounds like they actually had a cohesive theme in mind when they wrote it.  The theme being the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’, and they have a song for each, and then some.

Buckcherry-Confessions (1)There’s still plenty of the sleaze and raunch that their audience has come to expect from them throughout this release.  However, it is apparent that they have also made a concerted effort to write songs that are more melodic in nature, including some tasteful guitar parts that work more for the melody than being over the top riff-fest.  This may signal a bit of musical maturity that only comes with age, not unlike wisdom.

Buckcherry’s leather-voiced singer, Josh Todd, has flexed his creative muscle to come up with an interesting and listenable concept album that has managed to keep their core sound and style while adding a more harmonious melodic overall sense of feeling to the album.

Confessions starts off with a straight-ahead hard rocker dedicated to America’s favorite pastime – ‘Gluttony’…  This is what this album is all about in a nutshell – we all want more and more of what is bad for us, consequences be damned!  It has a nice animalistic rage to it, and the chorus is catchy.  The bridge is an interesting cacophony of ‘wahs’!  We’re off to a good start…

Wrath’ is the next track, and the vocals are a bit monotonous, but the bass and guitars groove nicely in this song.  The drum tones are clean and crisp, but could use a little more thump on the bottom end.  The chorus is much more musical than the monotone of the verses, which are almost a chant, really.  The title comes across nicely in the feel of the song – it’s angry, and you believe it.  The guitar break is a nice contrast to the heavily syncopated drums and bass that are keeping the groove together while the guitars riff away…  The bridge starts off sounding much more melodic than the verses, and goes back into the chorus that has some interesting call and response vocals that express the feeling of the song title very effectively.

‘Nothing Left but Tears’ is a typical ‘fuck you’ song about love gone wrong.  It’s well done from a musical standpoint, but lyrically, it’s nothing special.  But then again, this is Buckcherry we’re talking about, so a coherent lyrical thought is a good thing when you come across it.  Still, it never rises above a typical love/hate breakup song.  “All the things you put me through, nothing you can say or do”…  Oy vey…

‘The Truth’ is going to be their slow song hit on this album.  It’s already getting significant airplay with heavy rotation on rock stations across the country.  It’s not as good as their song, ‘Everything’, but it’s at least consistent with what we have come to expect from them in a song of this kind.  The guitar solo is done very nicely, and played for the song. It just works for me.  The lyrics are simplistic, but heartfelt, and that comes across in their performance.  It’s as sappy a rock love song as I’ve ever heard, but it’s not so cliché that it gives me a toothache to listen to it.  Enough said…

‘Greed’ has a very simple beginning, sounding pretty sparse, and is at a good tempo for their typical stripper pole dancing raunchy rocker.  This will be another radio hit for them, and sure to be heard blaring from your neighborhood ‘gentleman’s club’, cranked to eleven on their jukebox or DJ booth.  I do like the bridge a lot.  It has a good guitar lead as well, and the bass line is pretty catchy by itself.  You’ll find yourself humming the bass lines more than the lyrics.

It’s not a deadly sin, or anything bad at all for that matter (unless you can’t swim, or have poor personal hygiene), but the next track is called ‘Water’.  Listening to the lyrics and where it’s going in reference to the title, is kind of like finding Waldo in one of those annoying puzzle pictures…  The analogy is really weak – “You’re like water, and I can melt with you”…  Once you get the analogy, you feel cheated.  I thought it might be some cheeky homage to Modern English’s 80’s new wave ballad for a split second, but that dog just wouldn’t hunt.  It’s just a shitty lyric, and so far, this is the weakest song on the album.  It just doesn’t do anything for me, and there’s nothing really special going on in the song.

Buckcherry-Confessions (2)“Seven Ways to Die” is a nice pick-me-up from the weak previous track.  It’s another straight ahead, double-timer, but it moves, and it starts to groove.  The verses are where the song really picks up the groove, but the pre-chorus doesn’t expand on it, so it’s a bit of a letdown from there up to the chorus, but then it gets to a cool, half-time bridge that changes the mood up, and the drum fills are pretty tasty and well played.  Once it gets back into the chorus out of the bridge, it gets its momentum back and rocks through to the end.

The band seems to be mixing metaphors between the Seven Deadly Sins and some sort of elemental alchemy with the song title themes of the album, and the next track is no exception.  ‘Air’ has a catchy hook straight from the beginning, and has a really good, straight-ahead groove that includes some cool bass work, and the vocals are more musical and less monotonous, and evidently given more thought as they’re more mature than most songs of this type from this band.  It’s a strong track that is very listenable, has a good guitar hook, a nice staccato rhythm to the drums and bass, and the guitar lead is pretty killer and tastefully played.  I like this song.

‘Sloth’ has a nice intro, short as it is, but it gets right into a slow (appropriate for the title) bluesy groove, reminiscent of Aerosmith’s version of the ballad, ‘Remember (Walking in the Sand)”, and the power chords and plaintive wailings of Josh Todd go very nicely with the overall melody.  The guitars are appropriately Joe Perry-ish, in keeping with the style of Aerosmith’s hit-making ballad recipe.  They say duplication is the sincerest form of flattery, so Aerosmith should be blushing like a virgin in a whorehouse over this one.  Still, this doesn’t detract from that fact that it is a well-written ballad, and works with the rest of the album.

Getting back to the Deadly Sins motif, ‘Pride’ is a bit like a spaghetti western full of raunch and angst.  There’s a bit of a story to it – a story of one man’s disappointment with the reality of a life wasted over his own stubborn pride.  It’s one of the more enlightened songs they’ve written from a lyrical and philosophical standpoint, and the music they put it to fits the bill.  The faintly spaghetti western-film tones of the guitars in the melody do this song justice, and the whole arrangement works pretty damn well.  In fact, this is my favorite song on this album.  I like songs that show a band has grown musically and intellectually, even if it is a sleaze-rock band from LA.

‘Envy’ is another good groover.  Guitars and bass working well together to create a feeling of urgency, and the drums are not overplayed, and full of some good jams.  There are some good dynamics in this song that give it ebb and flow that keeps you rocking back and forth to the music.

‘Lust’ is Buckcherry’s bread and butter.  It’s no surprise that this song rips the riffs and drives you forward, given the topic.  It’s not a stripper pole bump and grinder, but it is a good driving song for sure.  It’s the kind of song you crank up when cruising on a Saturday night with your boys.  It’s a solid, LA sleaze tune that would make Motley Crüe proud.  Good old sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and it’s all out of control!

‘Dreamin’ of You’ is a strange song to end a Buckcherry album on, and here’s why: It’s pretty.  Yep, it’s a really pretty, sentimental acoustic ballad, and it’s very well done.  This is their next ‘crossover’ hit that will get airplay on top-40 stations as well as the rock and classic rock stations across the country.  I said it was a strange song to end the album, but strange isn’t always bad.  In this case, I think they nailed it.  This song will get people to buy the album.  They are going to have to go through the entire track list to get to it, and for the most part, they will like what they’ve heard along the way.  However, when they reach this song, they are going to be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

It’s funny really…  When I think of the band Buckcherry, I think about having to play ‘Crazy Bitch’ over and over at my own cover band’s gigs over the years since it came out, and because of that song I have come to think of Buckcherry mainly as a band strippers love to rock on the pole.  Nevertheless, I must admit that even though a lot of their lyrics are still sophomoric in nature, they can actually write some good ballads when they put their minds to it.  But that isn’t all.  This band still knows how to rock the house and blow your doors.  I have to give this album the thumbs up, and recommend that you give it a try as well.  It is a welcome surprise coming from a band that I had almost written off as a one trick pony, but it seems they’ve still got a few more tricks up their sleeves.

For more information on Buckcherry, including tour dates go to http://buckcherry.com/

Like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/buckcherry

Editor’s Note: My thanks go out out to my friend, Scott Mosher for bringing this new release to my attention!

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