Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Katya - Rock Lives! (2010)

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Rock Lives!

Katya - Rock Lives!
Armed with both six-string prowess and exotic good looks, California guitarist Katya has her sights set on earning the right to be counted among the rock goddess elite. With her debut album Rock Lives!, Katya makes a compelling case to be mentioned in the same conversations as the legendary Lita Ford and Joan Jett.

Joined by guest musicians such as drummers Gonzo Sandoval (Armored Saint) and Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), Katya devotes the majority of the Rock Lives! to exploring several styles of guitar-driven rock. The lead-off track, "The Power of Rock and Roll", proves to be one of the album's most powerful songs as it fires on all cylinders with an interesting use of harmonics and a crushing, balls-out groove. Katya's vocal performance is equal to the music in tenacity and attitude, though she does tend to unnecessarily bury herself in reverb. As good of a rocker as "The Power of Rock and Roll" is, I was a bit disappointed to hear the phrase "off the hook" uttered a couple of times. Not very rock 'n' roll, if you ask me. And by reading this, you did in fact ask me.

Moving right along, Katya pushes that minor gripe aside by launching into a burning rendition of Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz". Now, I'm not a Joplin fan but I really dig what Katya has done with this track. Up-tempo and overflowing with six-string flash and snarling vocals, "Mercedes Benz" earns a spot among the album highlights. The other track that ranks among the Rock Lives! standouts is "Laying In My Bed", a groovy slice of punky attitude with a nice extended solo thrown in for good measure. This song, as well as "JLY (You Gotta Rock That Roll)", shifts away from pure hard rock into more of a pop-punk/riot grrl territory. There's a distinct The Offspring sound to some of the riffs on "JLY..." as Katya's vocals take on more of a punkish, barked essence.

Most of the remaining songs on Rock Lives! explore various types of ballads. "Plugged In" is more of a power ballad with a touch of Liz Phair gruffness to the lyrics to offset the lush orchestral arrangements. "Like A Dream (A Love Song)" is a piano and string heavy ballad, while "Hey Sister" ratchets up the passion just a bit to reach very close to something Lita Ford could have composed. While perhaps not truly a ballad, "We Never Say Goodbye" is the best of the slower songs with its easy pace and '80s-rock guitar sound.

Rock Lives!, while showcasing Katya's guitar and vocal versatility through a variety of rock styles, is nevertheless consistent in delivering songs that are enjoyable and easy to absorb. I think the opportunity exists for Katya to narrow her focus just a bit, but her debut album is definitely worth checking out for fans of solid, guitar-driven rock.

Track Listing
1The Power of Rock and Roll5:25
2Mercedes Benz4:17
3Plugged In3:43
4Like A Dream (A Love Song)5:11
5We Never Say Goodbye4:59
6Vicious Little Brat4:03
7JLY (You Gotta Rock That Roll)4:40
8Hey Sister4:16
9Laying In My Bed3:56
10Bitch & Moan4:11
12Like A Dream (Acoustic)4:30
13Plugged In (Acoustic)3:43
14Hey Sister (Acoustic)4:11
Total Runtime1:00:13

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