How Do You Like The Sound Of That
posted on 10/2007 By:
Now, I’m normally all for forward-thinking music, and I’ve said more than a few harsh words about deliberately ‘retro’ bands in the past. However, like all music fans, I’m a total sucker for some styles when played well enough. One of those styles in my case happens to be groovy, swaggering, blues-based throwback hard rock, and Amplified Heat are well-nigh masters of the craft. I enjoyed the shit out of the self-titled EP they reissued through Arclight Records earlier this year, and since then the members of this act (the Ortiz brothers; Jim on guitar, Chris on drums, and Gian on bass) were involved in a knife fight that left the rhythm section with multiple stabwounds a piece. They’ve already gotten back on their feet and recorded a new full-length, which sorta gives these guys the rock version of 50 Cent’s injury-based street cred (unlike some other Texan “badasses” I could name). More impressively, they’ve outdone their already fun packed EP with another slab of foot-stomping 70s-style rock and roll.
Not a whole lot has changed stylistically here; Amplified Heat still cull pretty much evenly from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, and ZZ Top. The songs are shamelessly derivative, but like the blues from whence this music evolved, the quality of the performance is the ticket, and once again these guys pull through in spades. Jim Ortiz’s singing voice still isn’t the most impressive out there, but his semi-melodic hollering is weirdly expressive while belting out his (deeply philosophical) tales of drinking, fighting, touring, women, fighting while drunk, drunk women, and rock and roll being shitty nowadays. However, the most marked improvement is in Jim’s guitar ability. While his performance on the EP was adequate but somewhat scratchy, his lead playing in particular has achieved a messy exuberance that perfectly matches the partying mood of the music. The rhythm section of Gian and Chris sounds even tighter than ever—bonding over their injuries, perhaps?—and Chris remains one of the finest Mitch Mitchell disciples I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Much of How Do You Like The Sound Of That? draws its strength from the grooves these two construct. Booming mid-tempo rockers “Rambler,” “Man on the Road” and the title track wouldn’t be nearly as effective sans their flowing rhythmic pocket, and “Through and Through” and the re-recorded “She Drank That Wine” see the two bang out picture-perfect blues dirges that highlight the drama of Jim’s raucous soloing. Chris also contributes a short drum solo entitled “S.A.B.O.” that honestly could have stood to be part of a larger song, but is impressive nonetheless.
So my guess is this band is going to spend their career rocking bars and back-alley gigs full of classic rock enthusiasts, and I’m sure they wouldn’t want it any other way. Needless to say, if you were a fan of the last Amplified Heat EP then you’ll love this, and if you’re as much of a sap for this shit as I am then it definitely deserves a look. If you’ve got no interest in anyone in my conveniently-placed name drop segment, you might as well pass this one over. Amplified Heat are pure fan service—the only question is whether you’re a fan or not.
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