CD REVIEW: Slow Burning Car - Blowback
By: J.D. Stefan
Slow Burning Car
Blowback is the first release from the edgy alt-rock band Slow Burning Car. Slow Burning Car is the brainchild of Tony Spiropoulos, the band’s writer, vocalist and “strategist/visionary” based in Southern California. Blowback features Spiropoulos on vocals, bass, keys, percussion, samples and guitar. The “infantry” features an extensive lineup of musicians including Tracii Guns (formerly of L.A. Guns) playing lead guitar on a track. The core of the band features Mike Zimmerman on drums, Steven Omest, Derek Reynolds and Bryan Gage on guitar and Greg St. John, Sheila McSherry and Krista Ray providing backing vocals. The CD was produced Spiropoulos and Burt Malcutt and recorded at Nightingale Studios in Burbank, CA with Malcutt handling the engineering duties. Mastering was performed by Stephan Marsh at Threshold Sound in Santa Monica, CA.
Blowback opens with “King Con”, a quirky, punky rock song with some interesting chord changes and nice bass work from Spiropoulos. “I Saw the Mountain” is more of a predictable straight-ahead rock tune with a big chorus and big guitars. The synth lines blended in give the song another dimension than one would typically expect, nicely done. There’s some great variety in pieces like “Rumbling Chief” which takes a bit of departure from the harder-edged tracks until it builds into a full-out rocker towards the end of the song. It’s very clear that Spiropoulos is a talented artist. The songs have quirky hooks to them and there’s a lot of energy in the tracks. This is not your run-of-the-mill band; Slow Burning Car blends many different elements and influences and shapes them into their own identifiable sound. I can hear bits of Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, a touch of Faith No More and even a nod to some past heavy metal bands like Blue Oyster Cult. All in all, Slow Burning Car is a thinking man’s rock band. The production, lyrics and songwriting are all well-executed and the instrumental performances are all top-notch.
Spiropoulos has definitely captured an original sound on Blowback. Everything is recorded clearly and in contrast to many rock albums of this type, the lead vocals are very forward in the mix and as a result, very intelligible. Production-wise, the album falls a little flat for me in translating the energy of the songs. The guitars are big but they don’t really cut through the mix as I’d like to hear. The drums are well-performed and well-recorded but have definitely been mixed into the backseat for this vehicle. They have a muffled quality to them and lack some sparkle. The songs are well-written but there’s probably not going to be a lot of commercial appeal with them. The mix of punk, pop, older metal and straight rock works but the choruses could still probably use a lift and a bit more pop sensibility in order to take the tracks from good to great. These production nit-picks don’t change the fact that Blowback is a solid release however. This is a quality CD that simply lacks a little sparkle, punch and depth in the overall production.
Blowback is certainly going to win fans. There’s not a lot of stuff out there that sounds like Slow Burning Car and that can work for a band or against it at times. In this case, I think the originality and style will definitely find a solid niche and I suspect that the newer release from Slow Burning Car will further expand the band’s appeal if they continue to elaborate on the strengths they’ve laid down on Blowback.
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