Album review: Jim Breüer and the Loud & Rowdy - Songs from the Garage
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★★★☆☆ Comedy rock bands are only ever as good as the gimmick behind them. Steel Panther is a parody of sex-crazed 80s glam rock, Dethklok mocks the excessive violence of extreme metal imagery, while Spinal Tap and Tenacious D are simply – but beautifully – moronic. And the latest addition to the metal/comedy fusion genre – Jim Breuer and his backing band the Loud & Rowdy – certainly has a promising theme: the trials and tribulations of the middle-aged metalhead. For those who do not know, Jim Breuer is an American stand-up comic, renowned for his time on Saturday Night Live and his wild, rock n’ roll-orientated stage shows. While Breuer certainly isn’t the only heavy metal comic out there – Andrew O’Neill and Steve Hughes both instantly spring to mind – he is by far the biggest name of the niche. Breuer has performed with rock legends Metallica on numerous occasions as well as on the main stage of the notorious Wacken Festival, so for him to get his own parody album definitely makes sense. And the result of Breuer’s head-first leap into the genre of music that he has been paying homage to for his entire career is Songs from the Garage. The album opens with its lead single, ‘Thrash’: the track’s placement at the start of its parent album as well as it receiving early release and an accompanying video leads to the conclusion that this is supposed to be Breuer placing his best foot forward. Yet, it is the exact opposite. If anything, ‘Thrash’ is the weakest entry on Songs from the Garage, so much so that it’s release as one of the first tastes fans will receive of the album could damage its potential. Conceptually, the song is about Breuer spending whatever time he can while his family is away listening to metal. And while this introduces the ‘heavy metal dad’ persona that Breuer builds throughout the rest of the album – and could be identifiable for those in the same demographic – the simple question is: “Why is this funny?” Naturally, humour is an extraordinarily subjective concept and so very hard to criticise, but the general consensus is that it is based upon two aspects: suffering and – in the instance of parody – hyperbole. ‘Thrash’ provides neither of these things. Aspects of the song clearly demonstrate that it should be viewed as comedy – such as Breuer’s admittedly fantastic impressions of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne in the bridge – yet it feels self-restrained, as if it is afraid that it won’t be taken seriously. Furthermore, the instrumentation by the Loud & Rowdy delivers very little to write home about. Even the most casual of rock fans will be familiar with the types of riffs and beats the band provides, mostly creating a sound reminiscent of 80s groups like Metallica and Judas Priest with very few surprises.
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