Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sonic Boom - KISS - SMF Review

Well, it only took 11 years, but the newest studio album from KISS is finally out. You probably didn’t know that Sweet Monkey Fritters was a card-carrying member of the Kiss Army, did you? Considering the 34 years served within the Army, SMF has probably achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel by now, thank you very much.

So, was this worth an eleven year wait? Let’s find out, shall we?

1. Modern Day Delilah – Vocals by Paul – This was the first track released on their official website, and it certainly took a few listens before it started to grow on SMF. It’s sort of a cross between Rock and Roll Over and Carnival of Souls-era Paul Stanley. SMF wasn’t initially sure how to feel about this one, but it’s a solid KISS track. Given time, it may work itself into iPod rotation.

2. Russian Roulette – Vocals by Gene – The behavior of Mr. Simmons has been a source of aggravation for SMF in recent years. It’s a good thing that Paul managed to wrangle in his ego for this record. How does the Demon do on his first track... Simply put? Meh. The SMF iPod boycott of songs sung by Gene Simmons apparently continues if this song is anything to judge by. This is yet another one in a long line of Gene's throw-away songs on anything that's post make-up era KISS. Remedial lyrics. Passable vocals...even if it's mostly spoken. This is the best you could kick off your first album contribution with, Gene? Nice guitar work by Tommy Thayer, though.

3. Never Enough – Vocals by Paul – If the Revenge-era song "Take It Off" had a sibling, "Never Enough" would be the younger, spunkier little brother. They’re very similar in the vocals and cadence. (Not to mention more than a little similar to Poison's "Nothin' But A Good Time, but Ssshhhh... don't tell them.) This could have easily made an appearance on any KISS album since Destroyer. Nice job, Paul. This would be fun to hear in concert! It’s already been replayed several times as this review is being written. Appropriately named, too. SMF can’t get enough of this one.

4. Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect) – Vocals by Gene – It started off with potential, but by the time it reaches the bridge, it’s just more remedial Gene Simmons lyrical tripe. "Plaster Caster" / "Unholy" it ain’t, Gene. This about as inspired as anything he did on "Unmasked." The backing vocals are very reminiscent of classic KISS, though, and that’s pretty cool, but doesn't save the song. The SMF iPod ban on Gene Simmons continues.

5. Stand – Vocals by both Paul and Gene – They really should have done more of the shared vocals throughout their career. Those tend to be some of their better efforts. SMF HIGHLY RECOMMENDS their Ramones cover of "Rock and Roll Radio", if you need a recent example of their trade-offs. Stand is a pretty decent song and will probably do well as a sing-a-long at concerts. After several listens, it's clearly no "God Gave Rock and Roll To You", but it's close and will probably replace that song in concert. Overall, a pretty good song, but it gets a little long in the tooth towards the end. (And Paul... was that a Jackson 5/Michael Jackson "just look over your shoulder" references thrown in there?)

6. Hot and Cold – Vocals by Simmons – How many songs can Gene start off with the words "Oh, Yeah" and "Look Out?!" Still, this is probably one of his better offerings in a long, long time. Certainly his best effort on "Sonic Boom" since the CD started. This one would be fun in concert. Although the lyrics are standard Gene. "Feel my tower of power?" Really, Gene? SMF personally likes, "If it’s too loud, you’re too old." Indeed, Gene. Indeed. (The ladies man act is wearing more than thin after 35 years.)

7. All For The Glory – Vocals by Eric – Well, it took them long enough to let him FINALLY sing lead vocals on a song, didn’t it? Considering they let Eric Carr have vocals on only 2 albums, it’s about bloody time. This one is good. Nice guitar riff, solid vocals. Eric Singer is one monster drummer! This sounds the most like Klassic KISS. Well done!

8. Danger Us – Vocals by Paul – While this certainly sounds like Klassic KISS, "Danger Us" did nothing for SMF. If this gets played in concert, it’s a bathroom-break song. A throw-away song, at best. Decent guitar-work by Tommy, though, but it doesn’t save this mess. (Danger You! Danger Me! Danger Mouse!!...err... Us.)

9. I’m An Animal – Vocals by Gene – No Gene, the title of your last solo album is what you are really. Hint: It’s "A**hole." Worst song on the CD.

10. When Lightning Strikes – Vocals by Tommy – SMF has some cassette tapes of Tommy’s former band Black-N-Blue, but he was just their lead guitarist and not a singer. This is one is very catchy, and very KISS. Tommy certainly sings better than Ace ever did. Not bad, not bad at all. One HELL of a riff on this song, and some nice backing vocals. One of the stand-out songs on this album.

11. Say Yeah! – Vocals by Paul – This may have been a throw-away from Paul’s most recent solo album, but it’s catchy. In lieu of a ballad, this is a fairly solid song, and will probably sound fun in concert. Not bad.

This is going to cheese off the diehards, but the break-out stars on this CD are, without a doubt, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Definitely the kick in the Azz that KISS needed to remain relevant. While SMF prefers the Kulick/Singer era of the band, the Thayer/Singer era isn’t half bad. Especially on this album. (Even Paul and Gene forced Tommy to play in a style as close to Ace's as possible.) Great production work from Paul, too. While it's unlikely we'll ever see another studio record from them ever again, this isn't a totally bad one to go out on. At least the four members of the band actually played on the entire thing. Something that can't be said for a KISS record in far, far too long.


P.S. - An open note to Paul and Gene...

Album length: 43 minutes?! What is this, a Ramones concert?!? Dudes, seriously?

Generalfeldmarschall Sweet Monkey Fritters

No comments:

Post a Comment