Lingua Franca Reviews #1 – Mary Ann Hawkings / Turbo Lovers / Nightstalker / The Loyal Cheaters

It’s a new year and with it come new opportunities. Two months have passed since we turned the leaf over 2022, but here we are presenting a new “segment” in World of Metal – a segment where yours truly, Matias, the misanthropic boomer hater (as titled by the boss man himself), will comment on sets of four albums with his full blown lack of professionalism but “very nice Englix skillz” but with due respect to the authors of such works, as hard work is hard work even if it doesn’t appeal to my sensitive musical taste buds. The title’s raison d’être is two-fold: Lingua Franca Reviews makes sense as in this place I’ll be writing in the English (considered to be the “most international language”) and I’ll be commenting plainly and honestly (Franca, in Portuguese, means Frank (historic Germanic people) while franca means honest, so Lingua Franca we get also “honest tongue”) – despite this overly serious moment regarding lingua franca, I promise to keep the mood light and semi-sarcastic/funny.

Overall, this is just a good excuse for me to write my reviews in English as I’m far more confortable butchering a language that isn’t my own and this away non-Portuguese bands don’t need to go over to Google Translate and ending up complaining on how we compared their work to “punheta de bacalhau”. Just so we are clear, these aggregations of albums don’t follow any particular rule, aside from overall genre, and are treated equally and fairly in the ocean of albums that we have to review. So… bad luck, dear artists, you’re stuck with me and you won’t get a review in Portuguese, the most beautiful of languages.

Today, as a debut set, we have the following: Mary Ann Hawkings, Turbo Lovers, Nightstalker and to finish, The Loyal Cheaters.

Surf’s Up, Heppu/ Howdy, Partneri.

First off, we have an unusual mix that raises the question: Is Finland a place for surfers? According to the internet, yes, it is. But more importantly, is it a place of surf rock? Apparently, also yes. This is the case with Mary Ann Hawkins, a band that has decided to take one of the most underestimated genres of rock as their mantle and make it their own. Recently – actually, almost a year ago – this band released their debut album that bears the band’s name (or is it supposed to be the name of the surfer?). In few words, this is a work that while creating a relaxing atmosphere, also manages to awe the listener with both its more traditional aspects as well as with the more unconventional decisions. Regarding the last, one should consider that throughout this album, listeners will sometimes be at the beach and other times on the set of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, so if you thought that the wave (pun intended) of surfer rock nostalgia wasn’t enough for you, don’t worry because there is also plenty of reminiscence about the epic soundtracks of those “western spaghetti’s” movies your dad loves so much.

Overall, Mary Ann Hawkings – the band – presents a work that seems to check all the marks of a solid album: it’s original while also being grounded on a classical genre, its execution is flawless, it mixes its different aspects without making a sloppy job of it and most important of all, it teaches you about surf culture! (10/10)

Youthful Rock from Ohio

For some unbeknownst reason, Ohio has been on the crosshairs of the internet for some obscure reason, it being deemed a place where one can’t even breathe normally. Despite that fact, Ohio gave the world good things such as the man who “stole light bulbs” (it’s a joke, you Edison aficionados) and also the gift of flying which for some reason still doesn’t feel like a completely experience to me.

Recently, Ohio gave a smaller but also good thing to the world and that is Lettin’ It Fly by Turbo Lovers. Turbo Lovers are a band that have been around since at least since 2004 performing a genre of music that has been labeled as “trucker-metal” by Classic Rock Magazine … I mean, it feels more like pedal-to-the-metal-with-a-side-of-french-fries-accompanying-a-juicy-burguer-american-rock to me, but hey this is just a European man’s opinion.

Jokes, aside: Lettin’ It Fly, Turbo Lovers’ latest work, presents what I see/hear as very straightforward type of rock, a brand of rock that you usually associate with the early 2000s.It’s mood is one of cheerfulness with amicable challenge in contrast to the more aggressive and edgier styles of rock that characterize current music. This decision of making more relaxed/positive music is one I applaud, and to be direct, Turbo Lovers clearly thrive in this type of atmosphere. This album is catchy especially in its instrumental work and has enough variety, managing to avoid getting obnoxious with its cheery mood. It even seems to lend from some more known beats/elements in classical rock (Back in Black, for example) which is a thing that always adds value if well used, as is the case.

Shortly, word is: Ohio is a crazy place. However, Lettin’ It Fly is a very grounded album perfect to relax while you prepare the barbecue and drink the cold beer on a sunny evening. (8/10)

Isn’t it stoner rocker, though? No, it is not

Next up, is a band that hates it when people put a label in their band and music. They are Nightstalker, a Greek band that has been delivering good ol’ fashioned rock since the 90’s.

When I say they hate being labeled as this or that genre, I mean it! It’s the first thing you’ll read when opening up their site. So, on the risk of angering these Greek musicians (I think they also dislike it when people bring nationalities to the discussion), I’ll start by saying what genre comes to mind when you hear their newest album, Dead Rock Commandos; stoner rock. However, it would be too simplistic to call this album stoner and end it with just that. That being said, let’s desiccate what type of sound is in Dead Rock Commandos.

Firstly, as someone who dislikes stoner rock/metal, I can confidently say that this album can’t be bluntly typified as the last as it doesn’t embrace all the elements that belong to the genre. Nightstalker do a great job of joining the best elements of stoner rock and avoid the worse ones, specifically the monotony that accompanies most albums of this genre. In this case, you have a somewhat intense album that isn’t too dense but still manages to hook the listener in. Most of its tones are dragged, while still allowing for some melodic development behind (it’s not just three dragged chords throughout the duration of the songs).

Secondly: the vocals. To me this is the element that is “more equal than the others” as it represents the biggest representation of spirit in this album. The vocal clearly has some similarities with classical rock (personally, it reminds me a lot of Ozzy) and gives “vibes” of biker bar, if that even makes sense.

Lastly, as I said, this album gives you ideas of stoner rock, especially at the start; however, as you dive deeper in its essence, you’ll start noticing that it’s much more complex. I started feeling like stoner on the bean bag chair and ended up feeling like the cowboy on the Harley Davidson. That being said, Nightstalker might be right on the idea that is better to not label their music.

Concluding, this was a very good listen as it managed to create an original atmosphere by mixing some different aspects of similar but distinct genres. In fewer words, it delivered an consistent and amusing rock experience. (9/10)

Loyal to the Bone!

The Loyal Cheaters… Now this is a band that really sweats the 80’s rock tenacity we all know and love. This band with Italian and German roots first gave signs of life three years ago by releasing a single by the name of Surrender. However, two years had to pass for us to get a “full(er)” picture of just what was this band, and this “picture” came in the form of their first full release: Long Run…All Dead.

Their whole act can be summarized as hard rock; one inspired by the 80’s era and this influence can be felt both in terms of their sound and their style as seen by the cover of Long Run…All Dead. Musically, this is an album that stands out through its vocals as this band’s vocals are almost exclusively female, an element that definitely works with this rebel-type of rock. Now, of course I wouldn’t ignore the rest of the instruments, as if it wasn’t for them, the whole album would just fall flat with ou without a good vocals. And for our luck, The Loyal Cheaters present a really solid foundation in terms of overall atmosphere in this album with quick tempos and with a hypnotizing guitar work (when it goes out of the rhythmic phase).

Ironically, due to the direct nature and quality of this work there is nothing more to be added to my commentary about this album. It’s direct and simple: either you like or not. In any case, on thing is granted: when it comes to hard rock, this band certainly isn’t cheating. (8/10)

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