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Hard Side: Thin Acid Angel - Underneath 6th Street
By Travis Becker (Brewmaster - No, really, I have a diploma from Busch Gardens)

To say that a band is straightforward hard rock is ostensibly to say nothing at all about them these days.  That being said, it is difficult to pin any more specific stylistic tag on a band like Thin Acid Angel, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing.  On one hand, the band has a fresh approach and they are unwilling to limit themselves in terms of the music they create.  On the other hand, the band has also produced a fairly inconsistent record that's really tough to nail down in a listen or two, which is not to say that at any point the album is musically weak in terms of writing or production.  The only deficiency arises in the reliance the band seems to have on sounding like other artists from completely different genres.  They're all over the map stylistically but by the end of the record it never felt like they had established a hometown of their own.  It's hard to fault them for sampling the great Rock Western Sizzlin buffet, but they'd do better to get invited to a potluck and bring their own specialty potato salad.

 Thin Acid Angel has been around since 2000 and "Underneath 6th Street" is the California band's second recorded effort.  For what seems to be a self-financed and self-produced album, a high degree of professionalism shows through from the start, and it would lead one to think that the members of this band have probably been around a while in other bands.  All members bring something to the table on "Underneath 6th Street", the guitar work is strong and varied and Loren Routh does an excellent job handling all of the various permutations the band takes on musically.  The rhythm section is solid if unremarkable (except for Beerwolf, the remarkably named drummer), and the vocals are unique, sort of Morrisey meets any number of sixties folk singers.  The songwriting works in places and not so much in others.  

The opening track, "Devil's Ride" is a good start, drawing on the tried and true ingredients of rock, cars and Satan.  "Dead Bodies" screams Alice Cooper but "Here Comes Sickness" by Mudhoney also leapt to mind upon hearing it.  The only major misstep is "Hippie-Crits" that while well-intentioned, comes off sounding very hackneyed almost like a punked up Weird Al song.  The breaks and speak-singing in the song might actually give you a Minor-Threat-in-decline flashback.  The acoustic ballad at the end, "First Day of Winter" is a nice coda, but adds little to the proceedings but to confuse their identity even further.

This is, clearly, a band that works hard and pays their dues to overuse a tired cliché, it's just hard to imagine them getting to that next level without finding one thing that they're really good at and going from there. 

As it is, the listener gets a weird mix of Billy Idol, 80's new wave and goofball Punk along the lines of the Cramps.  There are some more ethereal moments featuring keys and acoustic guitars that bring to mind Southern Death Cult.  With the very bass voice the singer employs even Goth elements shine dimly through from time to time and cast a black pallor on the music, which remains pretty fun loving throughout.  The Doors without the heavy artistic sensibilities or the aura of the sixties clinging to the sounds like a wet white t-shirt wouldn't be a bad comparison.  It is certainly no crime to be eclectic, but a band imprisons itself if it can't make up it's mind what kind of a sound it wants to have, and the solitary confinement of cover-band territory is always right around the corner.  TAA is fully capable of stepping off the stages of local bars and walking over the threshold to a record contract but they'll have to make up their mind which direction to go once they get through the door. 


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