CHECKMATE - Gonzales (Chorus Of One)
This one arrived with a batch of albums from an Italian label and promptly sat in a queue, awaiting a listen. Most of its label-mates were various shades of metal or hardcore and when they didn't do much for me, the line grew longer. When its time came, however, "Checkmate" jumped out of the pack.
Maybe it's the strong psychedelic under-current (an Italian instro acid band Cosmogringos is a forebear) or the rich streak of melody lurking among the rock guitars, but Gonzales strikes a chord that bands of a similar ilk spend years to find.
The band cites the Dead Boys, Radio Birdman, the Stooges, Motorhead and New Bomb Turks as influences - and that last one especially shines through. Odds are that Gonzales would clean up live; this is the sort of stuff you'd see on a good Saturday night in a club in Chicago, Sydney or Stockholm. It's not just Rock but also a big dose of Roll, because the drummer (one, Mr Malcolm B. Cobra) swings like a middleweight contender with the scent of a title belt.
Guitarist Markey Moon's strong vocal carries the melodies and the band pumps out tight riffs over the course of 10 songs (one of them a break-neck cover of "Ring Of Fire" that kicks the shit outta most others brave enough to make it to CD or vinyl.)
Gonzales don't offer much new but what they do dish up is prime beef. If they'd been around a few years earlier they would have been touted as "Nu Rock" and sent out on a package tour with The Datsuns. They're different to most of those bands however, with a guttural punk edge.
"Go To Hell" might be the best original cut, a pulsing missile of rock destruction. "My Son" wraps a call-and-response lyric over a solid guitar line to take the album out in style.
A more than respectable effort. - The Barman
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