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Sixx A.M.’s third album brings back rock n’ roll

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81jYDMkBerL._SL1500With a fist of knock-out guitar riffs and hooks, wailing vocals and great, easy-to-follow choruses, rock n’ roll is back and it’s here to stay. Rock band Sixx A.M. released their first album in three years, “Modern Vintage,” Oct. 7 to stores everywhere, signaling the start of a fall, winter and spring that promise to be a powerful return of rock and metal music.

Composed of bassist Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue fame, guitarist DJ Ashba of Guns N’ Roses, and vocalist and producer James Michael, Sixx A.M. is one of modern rock’s premier rock n’ roll bands. The band established relative success with their first album, “The Heroin Diaries,” which contained the now hit single, “Life is Beautiful.” Their second album, “This is Gonna Hurt,” was released in 2011 and continued the band’s success with the hit rock single “Lies of the Beautiful People” and the title track as a soundtrack to Sixx’s autobiography of the same name.

Sixx A.M.’s newest album, “Modern Vintage,” introduces a new flavor not evident on their previous albums. The sharp, hard rocking guitar riffs and backing vocals are still there, but the songs feel more vintage. They have an analog sound reminiscent of the 1970s, despite being recorded digitally.

“We didn’t have a template to follow. It was a completely open canvas,” Ashba said in an interview with Legendary Rock Interviews. “We went back and pulled out all of our old vinyl records and just started listening to, you know, just the sound that vinyl had and the journeys that those bands took you on, such as Queen, E.L.O., David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and all these great artists from the late 1960s and early 1970s.”

The album contains 11 songs, one of which was a moderately successful top 40 rock hit. Here is a list of the standout tracks, both good and bad. Album tracks not listed include “Relief,” “Get Ya Some,” “Give Me A Love,” and “Miracle.”

Eleven Seven Music/Sixx A.M.

“Stars”

Stars is a bit of a different sounding Sixx A.M. song. It still has Michael’s unique vocals at the forefront of the band, but there is a techno-like backing beat and a more ballady feel. The guitar solo near the end of the song captures the flavor of the greatest hit songs of the 1980s, however, which is somewhat opposite of the rest of the song.

“Stars” is hit and miss. Not to say that the song is filler, but it just doesn’t quite live up to the Sixx A.M. name. It’s too produced and cliche of modern rock bands.

Eleven Seven Music/Sixx A.M.

“Gotta Get It Right”

“Gotta Get It Right” was the album’s lead single, which was released over the summer to radio stations and iTunes, although it hasn’t gained much airplay in the Seattle area market, unlike their previous single from 2011, “Lies of the Beautiful People,” which was played constantly by KISW.

The song showcases the fun that a band can have creating music and it really has the spirit of the 1970s within. That being said, the song is also vastly different from what Sixx A.M has previously done. The song is powerful, fun and easy to enjoy. This is the kind of song that will bridge the gap between pop music and hard rock, and it is exactly what the music world needs right now.

Eleven Seven Music/Sixx A.M.

“Let’s Go”

“Let’s Go” is probably the best song on the album. It is the most similar of the new songs to that of Sixx A.M.’s first and second albums. It is hard rock through and through. Released as the band’s second single, it fared better than “Gotta Get it Right” on iTunes, but failed to chart on the mainstream rock charts.

Eleven Seven Music/Sixx A.M.

“Drive”

“Drive” is a cover of The Cars’ 1984 hit from their multi-platinum selling album “Heartbeat City.” Instead of the magnificent and beautiful ballad composed by The Cars and sung by the now deceased Benjamin Orr, Sixx A.M. added electric elements back into the stripped down song, along with an unnecessary electric backing beat mix.

“Drive” by The Cars is one of those songs that should never be touched by another band because it was already perfect in its original form. Sixx A.M.’s take on the song is definitely interesting and different at best, but nowhere near as good.

Eleven Seven Music/Sixx A.M.

“Hyperventilate”

“Hyperventilate” is an unusual song in that is very pop-oriented. It has the pop hooks and choruses, but the hard rock guitar and bass riffs. Michael’s vocals are very strong throughout the entire song.

The composition is very unique for a rock song, which makes it a standout on the album. It has funky lyrics, fun bridges and choruses, great breakdowns and diverse sections of the song that each hold themselves up. It is a song worth listening to over and over and over again, until the lyrics are memorized or the record is scratched too badly by the needle of the turntable.

Eleven Seven Music/Sixx A.M.

“High on the Music”

“High on the Music” is an alternative rock track with fun lyrics, a strong stomping or clapping beat much like Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, repetitive choruses with plenty of “ohs” and “oohs” to sing along to.

The song sounds radio and hit ready, but it remains to be seen if Sixx A.M. will release the song as their third single, or if the song will remain an unexpected gem.

Eleven Seven Music/Sixx A.M.

“Before It’s Over”

“Before It’s Over” is a song that could be written by the likes of Elton John or David Bowie, or early Queen. Even “Tusk” era Fleetwood Mac is reminiscent in the song. It screams fun throughout, like a kid lost in a candy store or strolling through an amusement park on a sunny day. The brass section mixes well with the band, creating a cheerful atmosphere, despite the lyrics.

There is a shift in the song just after the three minute mark, where it becomes like a ballad, with Michael’s vocals quivering as a piano plays prominently with the band.

Overall, “Modern Vintage” proves to be a great album, raking in four out of five stars. The best songs are “Gotta Get it Right,” “Let’s Go,” and “Hyperventilate.” It is a disappointment compared to Sixx A.M.’s last album, but a gem compared to the stalemate that has taken rock hostage since the downfall of Grunge.

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