Five Star General is a LA based band that sounds like it. The band comprised of Natalie Toto (vocals), David Lewis (bass), Jordann Bradley (guitar), Patrick Allen (guitar) and Starka (drums) has a sound that when rock had a bit more attitude. A couple of bands that come to mind are The Pretenders, Guns N Roses and the L.A. Guns.
On their release Basic Training the attitude comes in the form of some distorted wicked guitar but mostly Toto’s vocal performance. She has a classic rock n’ roll voice that you just don’t find that often anymore especially within the mainstream. She has some serious range, is dynamic and just lays into the words she sings.
The band opens with “Hot Tequila-Soaked Car” which may be the song that sounds like it could come from myriad of ’80s metal bands. That opening riff with the cowbell brought me back to my glory days. The music is tight and enjoyable but the vocals are the focal point here. I thoroughly enjoyed the anthemic “Hey! Hey! Hey!” chorus.
The band takes it down a notch with “Prom Song.” Before I even noticed the title I was thinking this song would be perfect for an 8th grade dance. You know where girls have to slow dance with the boys who are a couple inches shorter than them at that point. The song is quite epic in the end.
“Winter Bones” is a short song with more memorable vocal harmonies and attitude. The band threw me off with the instrumental song “Inflation.” They pour on some reverb and end up sounding closer to shoegaze or post-rock. It was an odd deviation from their previous material. I enjoyed the song in itself but it may have worked better on a different EP or a B-side.
The band returns to their previous sound on “Swamp Thing” which has a southern “True Detective” type sound that is best heard at 1:30 in the morning while doing shots of tequila and tickling rattlesnakes. They wrap up the EP with “Spanish Villain” which has an atmospheric verse and a hard-hitting chorus.
Five Star General i feeding some of the old rock n’ roll cliches with a smile and I was thoroughly enjoying the experience. The band has the skills and a great singer. I think if they can find a bit more of their own essence along with the classic rock moves they would even reach a greater audience. Great EP and I look forward to more soon.
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