I’m not going to go so far as to say that this is exactly what I needed, but after my previous album review, this was certainly a welcome change. If you took Alice in Chains, Cinderella, Badlands, and maybe a little XYZ and got them to have a baby, Drunken Rollers would pop out in a whiskey soaked placenta spitting tobacco demanding directions to the nearest dive. Graphic visuals; I love ‘em!
All fanfare aside, Drunken Rollers are a heavy, smoky, and somewhat nostalgic hard rock band with some major blues influences. With allusions to escapism and the open desert road, this album satisfies that primal desire for freedom endemic with anyone who has ever had to deliver pizzas across town past when their shift was supposed to end.
Though the unfortunate realization at the end of the day is that this liberating, “driving-down-the-road-in-the-hot-sun-with-the-top-down” feeling is cut short real quick by what I like to call the “B-sides.” Granted, B-sides don’t really exist anymore because records don’t really exist anymore, but it is strange that every album with the exception of the few perfect, from start to finish, albums, have the B-side songs. The ones that are just sort of filler, not good, not bad, just kind of there. Regrettably, this album suffers the same fate.
Following the anthemic escapism of “Start all Over Again,” the tongue-in-cheek “Driver’s License” (which features the chorus “Give me back my driver’s license”), and the catchy, romantic “Rolling Down the Highway,” the problem starts with “Whiskey and Gasoline.”
To break it down, the first portion of the album follows those themes of escapism with “Start all Over Again,” which tells the story of a man who’s simply fed up with the people and world around him, grabbing the keys, and driving off to another town. “Driver’s License,” is about getting pulled over. Simple as that. Better than Sammy Hagar ever did. My personal favorite, “Rolling Down the Highway” is about hitting the road with your band, touring along the countryside and loving it. It’s romantic, it’s a fantasy, it’s the type of thing that you aspire to be doing when you’re fed up with your office job or your pizza delivering gig. Or, if you’re me, both.
Then the bad times start with “Whiskey and Gasoline,” while not a bad song, it fails to hold your interest. Most of its rather long runtime is a jam, which isn’t bad, in fact, the tone, feel, and expression of the guitarists is fantastic. To be fair, the musicianship is stellar, and I appreciate that the guitars are brought to the forefront. This guitar duo offers a sonic palette reminiscent of bands like Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd, offering rich Iron Maiden-esque guitar harmonies at certain times while ballsy duels and head cutting at others. Guitarists Lorenzo Braus and Giulio Peretti can lay it down pretty well while still maintaining a sense of melody and attitude, but after a while, even this shredder gets bored with long-winded instrumental sections.
The following “Ballad of the Lone Rider” is an instrumental piece which doesn’t do much in the way of hooks or groove. The redeeming song, if you could even call it that, towards the end of the album is the title track “Boogie Generation.” Why do bands do this? If you only have X amount of good songs, just put those out, or do an LP or an EP, because, in Drunken Rollers’s case, the rest of the album is trying to be a bluesier Alice in Chains (though to be fair, not necessarily failing).
If you were to blindfold yourself and somehow bring Layne Staley back from the dead, put him in a booth with vocalist Lorenzo Braus and have them switch off singing verses, you’d be hard-pressed to make a distinction between the two. Braus offers a strong, gravelly voice, but still maintains the power and clarity reminiscent of Staley.
In conclusion, I would give Boogie Generation a moderate recommend. Not by any means a bad album, but a spotty album. Summer’s coming up, and I’m sure I’ll find myself blasting this song out of rolled down windows without hesitation. If you’re into heavy blues, I’d say give it a listen, and always note this reviewer’s own bias towards certain song choices and production choices. Perhaps, in my search for the “perfect album,” that is, great from start to finish, I’ve become too picky with what I like and do not like. Perhaps the perfect album doesn’t really exist. Except it does. It’s Vince Neil’s Exposed.