Sunday, February 22, 2009

Review: Mean Venus - PCP (2008)

Mean Venus [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]

Sometimes I wonder what's in the water in New Jersey. Of course, I really don't want to know (who does?), yet something's been going on in the Garden State that has resulted in quite a proliferation of hard rock bands. Milltown's Mean Venus, another member of the herd of bands that have been trampling the East Coast and beyond, unharnessed their debut album PCP late in 2008. The album exhibits plenty of the modern rock sensibilities that have manifested success for bands such as Hinder, Seether, and Sixx A.M..

Whether you like modern, radio-friendly rock or not, Mean Venus is not just another copycat band. While tracks like "Thank Me" and "Let The Feelings Go" will score big with the Hinder crowd, the band often lets some of their less-than-contemporary influences shine through. "Midlife Crisis" has an overpowering KISS sound to it not only because of the grimy, bluesy riffs but also because frontman J (yes, he goes by a single letter) seems to channel a bit of Gene Simmons in his delivery. J consistently gives an admirable performance behind the mic with his straightforward "hard rock" voice, which compliments the music very well. He also draws in some familiarity by ably mimicking Axl Rose on the solid power ballad "A Little Peace" while his style on "A Vision" calls to mind Jerry Cantrell's distinctive drawl.

PCP benefits from the bountiful use of hooky riffs and well-crafted solos, courtesy of Marcelo. "Happy Here" provides a good example of his skill, the nice melodic riff that underlies a wistful lead brings to mind Faster Pussycat. While "Desperation" relies on some crass lyrics for shock value, Marcelo's groovy riffs and fairly intense solos make the track one of the album's highlights. At the other end of the spectrum, though, is "Invisible". After a couple of rather rockin' tracks, this song - very much in the vein of Hootie & The Blowfish or Matchbox 20 - interrupts what had been an accelerating freight train of an album. It's a decent light rock song, but PCP would have benefited from "Invisible" being the final track, thereby winding down the album at the end instead of during the early stages.

All-in-all, PCP is a good rock album even though it tends to travel on the safer side of the genre. There's a sense of restraint that permeates each song, as if the guys in Mean Venus are about to throw caution to the wind and really light things up...but never quite cross that line. The band definitely trends toward the lighter side of hard rock, so if that's what you're in the mood for then by all means get your hands on PCP.

Track Listing
1 Let The Feelings Go 3:58
2 Happy Here 5:30
3 Invisible 3:41
4 Midlife Crisis 3:48
5 Thank Me 4:19
6 Desperation 4:23
7 A Little Peace 4:16
8 A Vision 4:57
9 Can't Let You In 3:25
10 Wouldn't It Be Good 3:02
Total Runtime 41:19

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