YEAH THAT'S RIGHT - IROCK Z (Through The Windshield Records)
Here's a band with more influences than an indecisive bleeding heart juror in a John Grisham courtroom novel. Jazz, metal, high-energy and hard rock jams play tag with each other in a dizzying game of hide and seek, but somehow it all hangs together.

This Milwaukee trio wears the MC5/Radio Birdman influence on their collective sleeve (as if the storming cover of "Descent Into The Maelstrom" that closes the CD isn't a giveaway) but if you can't see past that, you're not looking or maybe you need new contacts. The fact that the variety card is played with skill and power almost makes me forgive them the drum solo in the funky/spiky prog rock "Getting Looks". Almost.

Seriously folks, what good is another MC5? We already have an MC5, on records at least. Plus an MC3, when they drag themselves out onto stages. So you can cite your influences all you like. Just don't slavishly copy them. And IROCK Z don't.

Coming together four years ago, it's taken IROCK Z that long to get out their first album - but that's not always a bad thing. By all accounts, they gig fairly often and (one fluffed intro on this album notwithstanding - which sounds like the rest of the take was too good to scrap) they're tighter than a Scotsman's grip on his change purse. That band name wouldn't sound so silly if i grew up in the Midwest and had first-hand experience of the car of the same name. At least they're not called Edsel.

Automotive allusions apart, you can call it punk. Maybe you'll conclude what they play is punk-prog, I decided after half -a-dozen plays Take a song like "Torture" with its chiming guitar build, stalker vocal and turn-on-a-penny actually detours into Minutemen territory. Shades of the Magic Band in the tempo changes, they'll appeal to people who like their hardcore to come with brains.

Lodi Capri is a skilled guitarist who leaves spaces in the right places. He sounds like a jazz player who's discovered extreme amplification. He's in his element in "What They Want" where skewiff chords rub shoulders with chugging riffs. Russell Danger Zone sounds like he has a bit of metal in his drumming resume, while bassman Trans Am Dan (there are more pseudonyms in this crew than a whole season of episodes of "Border Patrol") supplies the soulful vocals and fluid bass.

After a couple more listens, you might call it indie punk and that's a wide enough playpen to roll around in these days for the term to be almost meaningless, but I'll bet "Locked Up" is their favourite song on Radio Birdman's "Zeno Beach". Speaking of, they not only shared a stage with The Last Of The Bad Men on five shows recently but had Deniz Tek sit in on "Maelstrom". Last sighted in June '08, they were playing the undercard to Tek and Scott Morgan's Powertrane on their combined Midwest tour. Not bad company to keep.

Hate to sound like a wanker and say this is an album that's the sum of its past but that's what it is. Take that in your prog rock pipe and smoke it. But I like the car puns best. So insert the key and turn her over. You're in for an enjoyable ride.

Cop an earful, hit them up for a copy here.






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