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Slow Motorcade Sex, Drags & Rock ‘N’ Roll

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Monday, July 29, 2002 @ 12:26 AM


(Populist Anthems/Cargo Record

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Slow Motorcade hail from Silver Lake, CA, an area known primarily (if barely) for artsy fartsy shoegazer rock. Yet this five piece band sound more like the Sunset Strip in it’s late’70s/early ‘80s heyday than some neo pop-punk outfit, the days when Motley Crue and Hollywood Stars roamed the streets and bands like Sweet and Starz were heralded as heroes.

Lead by the guitar prowess of former Spiders & Snakes (which featured none other than Sunset Strip legend Lizzie Grey of London fame) guitarist Anthony Castillo, the band leans on power pop hooks and punky riffs but harness it into a hard rock package that is closer to old school Black Crowes than, say, Poison. One of the main reasons behind the rootsy backbone of their sound is lead singer John Napier, who has a gritty, throaty bluesy voice akin to Crowes’ crooner Chris Robinson, or even a young Paul Rogers. On cuts like the D’Generation style opener “Union of One” and the Beatles-y ballad “Helpless Mystery,” Napier blends whiskey drenched wailing with melodic, memorable passages and rises way above the heights of your average glam rock vocalist. And chief songwriter Castillo gives him plenty to work with here too. “Have and Have Not” mixes barroom boogie woogie with swirling power pop hooks, while “Martial Law” throws UK punk riffing in with some Who-style mob-isms to great results. “Juggernaut (At What Cost?)” sounds like Cheap Trick with a horn section and “Best You’ve Ever Had” harkens back to the days when Aerosmith were still strung out and rockin’! Taking their cue from ‘70s hard rock and glam acts such as Mott the Hoople, Bowie and T Rex, Slow Motorcade lean on songs over style and hooks over crunch. It’s not the most popular genre in music today, but real rock n’ roll always seems to last the short-lived trends.

The real highlight of Sex, Drags & Rock ‘N’ Roll though is the epic “Sixteen Forever,” Slow Motorcade’s “Surrender.” With its headbanging power chorus, honkytonk piano, massive string section, and female backing vocals, it’s the kind of tune that coulda given Motley Crue a shot in the arm after Dr. Feelgood and their most likely tune to become a hit. In the right world, this number would be a huge radio hit… but alas…

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