Over the last year or so, punk rock experts American Lesions have kept busy playing a tight brand of rock and roll that by my comprehension combines Stooges-inspired riffs with the kind of classic rock and roll song structures you might hear from Love Gun-era KISS. Boasting an all-star roster of musicians (Nicholas Smith, Dave Bird, Tony Ash and Eric McManus), these fellas have continued to make a name for themselves playing show after show, pushing every amplifier and PA to the absolute limit with their loud-as-fuck approach that I’d normally shy away from. It’s hard for me to understand bands that are loud for the sake of being loud with their towering rigs of equipment, but for whatever reason, with American Lesions I wouldn’t have it any other way. While I have certainly enjoyed the couple of performances I’ve had the chance to witness, I must say that there has been a lingering curiosity as to what American Lesions would sound like as a leveled out, recorded studio band. Look no further, boys and girls! The band’s highly anticipated debut EP Woundlicker has arrived, in all its glory!
As a collective rock and roll unit, American Lesions are incredibly tight, as evidenced on each of the five songs presented on this EP. As I’ve seen in their live performances, every track is blisteringly loud and energetic, but they manage to maintain a polished overall delivery as a studio entity that a lot of other bands of this ilk seem to be unable to pull off. I’m not suggesting that all rock and roll/punk bands have to have glossy, professional sounding recordings in order to be validated, all I’m saying is that it’s refreshing to hear such a well made, carefully constructed collection of songs that in my opinion really catches the spirit of what this band is all about.
Woundlicker opens up with “Gimme The Gutter,” a two minute barrage of rock and roll that immediately lets you know what you’re in for with American Lesions. The drums are hard hitting and upbeat, the guitars beautifully loud and distorted, while Dave Bird’s voice charismatically leads the way. His vocal style here has a pure bred rock and roll personality that emulates the sort of flamboyant attitude detected in legends like Paul Stanley and/or David Lee Roth. The song, like the others is relatively short and straight to the point packing in one hell of a punch in a short time.
The more I listen to Woundlicker I continue to detect inspirations the band seems to draw from. From my vantage point, the band successfully blends classic rock and punk from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in a way I’ve not really heard before. The title track opens up like a Head-era Jesus Lizard number complete with a post-hardcore bass line and tom-and-snare drum beat. That feeling is short lived however, as the song quickly evolves into another energetic toe-tapper. “Rich Daddy” is centered mostly around a repetitive guitar riff that really reminds me of something heard on Fun House. Closing track “Heap of His Heart” is a fucking bezerker that gets into full swing before the time counter even reaches 0:01 and maintains the same balls-to-the-wall approach for its entire 1:58 duration.
All five songs on Woundlicker are of the utmost quality, both as well constructed compositions and as recorded studio tracks. My only complaint is that five songs isn’t enough! I’m selfish and impatient, and I want more! I’m unsure if this EP serves as a precursor to a future full length record, but for now I can easily recommend that you get your grubby little hands on one of these as soon as you can.
CLOSING STATEMENT: With American Lesions, you get a no holds barred explosion of hard-hitting punk rock that can only be properly digested at a high volume. If this noise doesn’t make you want to bodyslam the person closest to you, check your goddamn pulse.
Listen to “Gimme the Gutter” and “Blood Red Interior” below: