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American Trash

Frontiers (2015)
Rating: 9/10

Frontiers Music doesn’t mess about when it comes to releasing high quality hard rock and metal albums. The latest release to drift through my ears from the legendary label is the debut opus from Beauvoir / Free, who are hardly the American trash they claim to be. In fact, they are far more heavenly by design.

Jean Beauvoir (ex-The Plasmatics) and Micki Free (ex-Shalamar) first joined forces on the debut self-titled Crown Of Thorns record in 1994, but having spent several years apart working on separate projects, the duo finally started collaborating again in 2013. The eventual result was American Trash; a truly staggering hard rock venture boasting enough soul, fire and colour to send you dizzy.

The album opens with the incredible ‘Angels Cry’; the sort of soulful harmony and monstrous riffage to entice in even the most hardened of sceptics. Fizzing solos, soaring vocals and something just so gorgeous about the riff somehow transports me back to the late 80s and early 90s, a time when the heavy metal genre was beginning to experiment and bands such as Living Colour and the lesser known Burning Tree were experimenting with funk and soul, keeping the weight but in a smoother, late 60s / early 70s vibe.

Beauvoir / Free’s debut opus is one that’s hard to categorise, so I’ll just keep it simple and say that American Trash is innovative hard rock. Of course there is so much more to it though, as showcased with the aforementioned ‘Angels Cry’ which pours from the speakers in such a heavenly manner; the riff driving and yet tinged with psychedelia, the drum hard, the bass grooving and that killer chorus melody that is so sweet on the ears.

I recall spending so many days craving this sort of stuff back in the early 90s, and there were certainly enough bands experimenting with varying styles but not in such a meaty yet orgasmic fashion as Beauvoir / Free.

‘Morning After’ comes in on a grunge-tinged lump of fuzz; it’s a slower tempo as the vocals drip into the ears like honey as we reach another utopian chorus of delights with the solo swirling out of the fiery wilderness.

It’s wrong that I’m trying to pigeon-hole such sublime, funked-up rock ’n’ roll, and so instead I let the record take me into a meditative state; the sick chords just caressing the ears with Jean Beauvoir’s vocals effortless and gorgeous – the overall sound one so rounded and soft and yet boasting enough oomph to top any music chart.

But of course, Beauvoir and Free are way too cool for school; the title track begins with sporadic percussion, hippy jangle and funky grace. Damn has this album got me grooving, the guitar wrapping me up within its slick coils and then massaging the matter as Jean Beauvoir beams, “Take my hand”.

The cool ‘Whiplash’ begins slowly at first, then ends up prodding like a sonically charged AC/DC before resorting to that fusion of soul and blues. ‘Just Breathe’, however, comes in at the other end of the spectrum as a sweeping ballad of simplistic piano stab and heartfelt vocals. Again though, the duo comes up with a fantastic chorus as Beauvoir soars, “If you’re ever feeling down, just breath. I’m the only one you’ll ever need”. It’s as simple as that as the boys carve out track after track of soft, gorgeous melodies which walk hand-in-hand with edgier vibes.

The street-wise ‘Shotgun To The Heart’ is a bruising classic, hinting at the heyday of 80s melodic metal, and ‘Cold Dark December’ comes struttin’ out of the blocks on a funky riff, while ‘She’s A KO’ is a straight up power-pop classic. It would be a crime for me not to mention the fabulously stirring and reflective ‘Never Give Up’ with its lush acoustics or the closing metallic bop of ‘There’s No Starting Over’, and that’s without the hip melody of ‘It’s Never Too Late’.

By the time the album has finished, you’ll be straight back for another bite anyway; Beauvoir and Free magically constructing some of the best hard rock and infectious melodies this side of 1994, and boy was it needed.

Neil Arnold

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