By Al Kaufman
American Bang is a rock and roll band; of that there is no doubt. Their debut CD opens with what sounds like a wild sound check, then blasts into “Whiskey Walk,” which contains the type of spiraling guitars that were Living Color’s trademark back in the early ’90s.
Jaren Johnston, the band’s songwriter, lead singer and guitarist, truly shines on some of the poppier numbers. “Wild and Young” sounds like Train on steroids; the type of steroids that bring about wild rages and loud guitars. It’s a typical anthem that will get the tattooed boys and girls in a frothy frenzy. It doesn’t say anything new, but what 20-year-old doesn’t want to celebrate the best days of their lives?
“Angels” is a bluesier number, recalling the Black Crowes’ “Talks to Angels.” Johnston uses his Tennessean drawl to maximum effect on the story about a girl looking for a better life. It’s the band’s effort to attract the fairer sex.
Yes, this is full of a lot of angry testosterone, like on “Hurts Like Hell,” and it will never get confused for Shakespeare. There’s not an original lyric in this whole thing. But American Bang aren’t about that. They’re not here to impress you, just to party with you. “We take it on the chin and get up again/Roll with the punches til the very end/We keep on keepin’ on we roll on,” Johnston sings on “Roll On.” Sure, there are at least four cliches in there, but the anthem is a perfect closer for the CD, and most likely for their live shows as well. It’s a song about perseverance, determination, and survival. It is a tale simply told, but it has a loud, angry guitar solo and it flat out rocks.
American Bang brought in producer Bob Rock for their debut. The man who turned the knobs for Metallica’s self-titled CD knows a couple of things about bringing on the noise. Although American Bang is certainly more radio friendly than Metallica, Rock, who has also worked with Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, ensures they have a certain grit to them that is missing in many of today’s pop rockers. This is good old rock and roll. It’s nothing more, but it is certainly nothing less.