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Middle Class Rut: Pick Up Your Head

You’ve heard of the power trio. Any takers for the turbo duo?

Guitarist Zack Lopez and drummer Sean Stockham admit that they’ve used a few studio tricks to beef up their sound on this second album, but anyone who has seen this Californian pair live will confirm that the driving force of this unholy racket is their own raging rock’n’roll energy.

Yet behind the pummelling rhythms, gut-stabbing power chords and hollering, Perry-Farrell-on-meth vocals are some fine pop songs. Born Too Late, Police Man and Leech are laden with hooks, whether they’re melodic motifs or visceral chunks of riff, and they serve to give this record an immediacy that few similarly heavy acts could match.

The love-gone-sour subject matter of No More and the perennially distressed vocal delivery suggest an emo influence, but there’s a robust, bluesy groove underpinning many of these songs that make MCR’s sound into their own.

The reverb-drenched production sometimes makes the whole thing sound like it was recorded in someone’s back garage, which may well be no accident, but turned up to speaker-bulging levels, it starts to make more sense. And I suspect that at festivals this summer, it will be all but impossible to ignore.

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock