Saturday, March 28, 2009

Review: Wyldsky - Wyldsky (2009)

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Take it or leave it, the hard rock of the mid to late 1980s made one helluva lasting impression. While bands like Poison, Mötley Crüe, and Def Leppard  are soldiering on and still selling out venues, their rock/metal hybrid remains a source of inspiration for many newly formed outfits - although the spandex has thankfully been abandoned. Enter California's Wyldsky, formed in 2006 by guitarist Tyler Nelson and rounded out by drummer Michael Lesniak, bassist Steve Evans, and keyboardist Chris Turbis. The band's self-titled debut is an amalgamation of classic hard rock and '80s Hair Metal influences held together by superb songwriting and exceptional musicianship.

Let's face it, Wyldsky is built around Nelson's mastery of the six-string and so each song features extensive soloing and varied riffing. Even so, this is not your run-of-the-mill virtuosic wankery we've all come to expect from the Jeff Scott Sotos and Joe Satrianis of the world. The other members of Wyldsky are excellent artists in their own rights, having found significant success on the jazz and blues circuits. So while you're going to get a lot of guitar, you'll be pleased to hear plenty of bass, complex beats, and classy keyboard passages. Nelson delivers big in the vocal department as well, sounding a bit like Taime Down (Faster Pussycat) and Jeff Keith (Tesla). Gritty, a bit sleazy, but absolutely spot on for Wyldsky's style of rock.

Wyldsky kicks off with "Next World", one of the more up-tempo tracks on the album. Evans' undulating bass lines during the very melodic gang choruses are highlights, as is Nelson's spiffy soloing. The album is a well-balanced, alternating blend of rockers and powerful ballads that serve to keep the overall mood flowing without risking stagnation. The mesmerizing "Holding On" follows "Next World" with a slightly slower tempo and a significantly mellower vibe - definitely one of those "chilling out" sort of tracks. Nelson experiments with some very interesting guitar tones, making this song one of the more memorable on the album. He also experiments vocally, adopting a deeper, more soulful voice on the bluesy "Dog Daze". Nelson's sweeping, forceful solo dominates the second half of "Rendezvous", which is sure to please fans of down-to-earth guitar wizardry, while Wyldsky channels a bit of Aerosmith on the '70s-styled rocker "My Baby". "Wild Honey", another scorcher, opens with a vintage Van Halen-esque intro while maintaining a sleazy, Bulletboys vibe throughout.

Wyldsky's debut encompasses all there is to love about '80s hard rock. The songs are well-written, catchy, enjoyable and memorable. The musicianship is first-rate all around and the production is robust. What's not to like? Well, if you're not at all a fan of this style of hard rock, then probably all of it. But if, like me, you find this style of music perfect for cracking open a cold one and dusting off some memories of the "glory days", then by all means get your hands on this album.

Track Listing
1 Next World 4:40
2 Holding On 4:51
3 Dog Daze 5:11
4 Rendezvous 6:59
5 My Baby 3:46
6 Comin' On 5:48
7 Wild Honey 4:53
8 Nightmare And A Dream 5:13
9 Where You Belong 4:59
10 Goodbye Good Riddance 4:42
Total Runtime 51:02

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