A friend of mine once said that all bands are the grass and AC/DC is the lawn mower. Well if AC/DC are the lawn mower the Leatherface is the thrasher in the cornfields of Iowa. They are but a force, unstoppable in every way and there first full length album back from a seemingly unending hiatus is proof of the awesome power of this rock and roll band.
Leatherface, as the story goes are legendary in and around England where they are originally from. They made small waves in the American punk and hardcore scenes years ago, but since their distribution was non-existent in this country and they never toured here, Leatherface remained relatively unheard of stateside. Then, Frankie Stubbs, the bands main songwriter, front man and grinding guitarist decided that the other boys weren’t playing with their hearts in it, so he up and left and the legend only grew.
It took a four-man powerhouse from Florida known as Hot Water Music to awaken the beast that is Leatherface. Last year BYO records released a split CD featuring the two great bands back to back. Leatherface set foot on their triumphant return with seven new songs that proved the valiant tales of this quartet.
Horsebox is but another testament as to why Leatherface is the most powerful band in the world. From start to finish, the band never lets up. Awesome leads and crunching rhythm guitars are backed up with precise drumming and foot stomping, finger walking bass lines. The first track “Sour Grapes” is a serenade in pure Leatherface style. It’s a seduction into the energy and power that is to follow. “Watching You Sleep” is a slam-dance-fest that any young lad can jump around to in their room. “Lorrydrivers Son” is a sweeping and sad song that is the best example of Frankie Stubb’s signature growling voice. It’s the classic rock and roll guttural sound, much like Tom Waits only more dirty, more gritty and more smoke filled. If angels smoked cigarettes and sat on dirty English street corners, they would all sound like Frankie Stubbs.
Thought the originals on the album are indeed awesome, the two covers lead much to be desired. Leatherface attempts to cover “True Colors,” but instead they do nothing more then murder it. The breakdowns stumble and the chorus is just brutally difficult to listen to, yet it’s still executed with passion as if it was the bands own. Their cover of Nick Cave’s “Ship Song” also falls short of the original. Stubbs has power and respect in his voice, but lacks the frightening tonal qualities that Mr. Cave is famous for. These covers are nothing more then minor obstacles and by no means roadblocks in an otherwise powerful album.
Leatherface is a prime example of consistent and good song writing. Their power outreaches any of the so called metal bands of today’s pop radio or the sick display of machismo often found with in underground rock scenes. Much like AC/DC when you buy a Leatherface album, you know what you’re going to get. However, it’s not the same old songs with different hooks, it’s more powerful, more crafted and better launched in your face every single time.
// Notes from the Road
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