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Joetown - Pills And Ammo

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 @ 6:07 PM


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Just in case the devilish-looking caricature with a goatee, long hair and a black top hat on the CD sleeve was not enough of an obvious giveaway already, Joetown a.k.a. Joe Delaney is a self-described one man metal machine/songwriter and producer hailing from Wallingford, Connecticut who’s been a fixture on the local hard rock and metal scene there for at least a good decade honing his producing/recording skills with the likes of Kings Of Reality and American Trash (the latter featuring Steve Broderick of Trans-Siberian Orchestra) before forming his backing band and branching out with his first breakthrough album. Any similarities in name to the near-namesake boyband responsible for a song about expressing one’s love to Janet Jackson by urinating on her that went to #1 in the summer of 2001 is thus purely coincidental and makes for a rather funny anecdote for this review and in no way reflects upon the quality of the CD. Speaking of which….

Now while a quick listen to some of Joetown’s tracks on the band’s MySpace page may hint that their influences are certainly steeped in everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Pantera with a trace of Kid Rock (before that god-awful “All Summer Long” crap nearly finished him off) thrown in for good measure Joetown do manage to craft some original sounds from alternate influences to a degree of success. Opening number “Hole In My Soul” may rely a bit heavily on the infamous vocoder effects popularized by Peter Frampton but it retains a good melodic groove to it even if Delaney sings a quarter of the chorus to Whitesnake’s “Slow An’ Easy” (“I know that hard luck and trouble is comin’ my way” ) in the midst of the song. Similar cred is achieved on the follow-up song “Finger” when the lyrics to Pat Travers’ “Snortin’ Whiskey” turn up in the second verse of the song although part of me, while appreciative that Joetown quotes awesome song lyrics in his own music, starts to get a feeling that this album is becoming a well-meaning karaoke exercise.

That changes when “Lonely Town Blues” comes on with its pounding bass drum and catchy guitar riff in the intro, then transforms into a stompin’ hard rock blues number complete with some meaty guitar riffage. “Crash” turns up the volume and increases the speed whereas “All My Angels” is detuned, angry and is probably the song Kid Rock wishes he’d written at some part of his career. The more introspective side of the band is showcased in “American Altar” which at nearly 7 minutes long is a slow haunting brooding number that highlights a more varied range of blues playing before climaxing in heavy distortion. The CD skip button will be active on filler like “LA Tuning” and “Devil As Woman” with the latter sounding more like an excuse to kill time in the studio while pondering ideas for a better song but the uber-funkiness of “Broken Man” and the appropriately-titled closing number “My Anger Knows No Bounds” compensate for it tenfold.

In all honesty, it was pretty difficult at times for me to scope out a single song - good and bad - off of this CD without wanting to compare it to something else (mostly Kid Rock, to be honest) and I’m sure even the most fervent of Joetown’s fanbase would agree with me halfway at the very least on Pills And Ammo not exactly being the greatest bastion of creativity ever captured in a studio recording. It still makes for a catchy record to listen to once you accept it for what it is.

Besides, at least Joetown will never have to experience receiving advice from A&R reps trying to convince them that merging the guitar riff and piano intro of 2 overplayed classic rock songs makes for a totally awesome summer radio hit.

http://www.myspace.com/Joetown
http://www.Joetown.com

*** 1/2
(Out of 5 Stars)

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