Enjoyable Sins

Kind of a redundant entry title, ain’t it?

Anyway – Saturday night I went to the Middle East Night Club for the Emergenza Festival, specifically to see Sin City Chainsaw.  As we had hoped, they lived up to our expectations, being a great, heavy, fun band. 

Sin City Chainsaw is stoner rock epitomized, with chunky, grinding guitars churning out catchy riffs that evoke Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Monster Magnet, Kyuss, and Queens of the Stone Age.  While not particularly break-through in their delivery, they are solid, and provide a great fix for the rocker needing a loud hit of some guitars, drums, bass and vocals working together to wake up the outer reaches of the universe.

Sin City Chainsaw are awesome live.  They are obviously enjoying themselves, and the lead singer, Curtis Caswell, fills the roll of rock n’ roll front man perfectly, hitting all the bases: calling out for more noise from the audience, jumping into the crowd, leaning WAY back to wail into the mic (I’ve never seen anyone quite that flexible), and taking off his shirt to expose a disturbing number of tattoos. 

On the record, the production is top-notch, and letting the guitars, bass, and drums work together to create a powerful wall of sound without creating nothing but noise.  My only criticism of the disc is that Caswell tries a bit too hard to recreate the energy of the live show and ends up keeping his vocals and energy levels so high on record that you actually find yourself getting tired listening to him, and wishing that he’d give you a moment’s rest.  I almost feel bad for the guy – he might want to mellow out with some miracle weed himself.

What results is a record with very little "breathing room" in the vocals, which creates almost no drama or tension in the songs.  Sometimes other bands creates songs that don’t quite pay off the way that you hope they would – never quite reach that bombastic crescendo that you are waiting for.  Sin City goes straight there, which is great for a while, but leaves no place to go.  At some point during the course of the 11-song disc, you begin to wish for something to help pace things out – either a slow, soft bridge, or an eerie low spoken voice vocal, or hell, even a power ballad, just to give us a chance to enjoy all the high points of the music and better appreciate the energy that is being exuded.   

Its nothing that a little bit of experienced record producing wouldn’t be able to guide into the songs, and I hope that they get a chance to work with someone like that.  Ironically, the record has "coke dealer" listed as the producer – if they can find "ganja smoker" as a co-conspirator and mellowing influence, Sin City Chainsaw would be golden.

5 thoughts on “Enjoyable Sins”

  1. Sin City chainsaw is indeed one of the best “working man’s rock n roll” bands I’ve seen in a long time. And the “hit you upside the head with an axe handle” delivery of their songs, riffs and sound are the best things about the stoner rock movement.
    It is for this reason that I don’t believe that the band should tame their act, live or on disc.
    The entire point of stoner rock is to deliver honest, hard-hitting rock n roll that takes no prisoners. It’s about passion, fuzzed out guitars and creating walls of sound.
    To have any kind of “post-stoner rock” dynamics in their songs or CD, such as a slow bridge or even a power ballad, would invalidate who they are and what kind of music they are trying to create.
    One of the best bands of the 1970s that could be classified as stoner rock today would be Grand Funk Railroad. Just take a listen to their self-titled album and you can hear the godfathers of this movement in full-blown action. It was only after some “experienced record producers” came in and fiddled around with things that one of the great power trios of rock became a pop act.
    Keeping that in mind, I think it would serve SCC well to stick to their roots and keep writing songs such as “Burn the Ceiling” “Let Me Out” and “Keep on Movin.”
    If it’s structure or dynamics that you want, you should search out a different genre of music: Pop, Hair metal, even “Nu metal”. The uninhibited vibe works here and that’s how we like it.
    Anyway, that’s one of the best things about a local band on an independent label, there are no “powers that be” to dictate what direction the band should take, just so they can get radio play or a top ten hit.

  2. Ahh… let me further clarify my statements. I’m not suggesting that they compromise their music – I’m suggesting that the lead singer – and the lead singer alone – gives the listener a bit of a break from his upper registers. The best heavy metal, hard rock or stoner rock vocalist demonstrate some sort of range in their vocals. Vocals that simply go “up there” and stay there doesn’t provide much in the way of interesting dynamics in my opinion. It doesn’t provide for a payoff to the music (which is great, no doubt about that) that is begging to be partnered with an equally climactic vocal.
    Think of it this way – ALL climax is the same as NO climax. If we all felt like we were having orgasms all the time, what would be the point of having sex? And good music should be like good sex – passionate, interesting, and either meaningful or enjoyably shallow…

  3. Hey man I totally agree with you man on the disc I suck….I was in the band three weeks when we went in to record that thing and I did not even know all the songs yet…..I am not making excuses for myself but I did what I could under the time restraints that I had….shit some of those songs were written on the spot in the studio….any ways where we shine is live and as you said yourself you enjoyed it ….so mission accomplished you should of seen our Paradise show that was much better….But hey man thank you for some positive feedback even if it is a year later….well we got ourselves a new guitar player and me and the boys will be back out there soon with a new and better record so look out for it..(we may change the name though keep you posted)and we can show you some good old kick ass rock and roll …….

  4. Glad that you appreciated the feedback and given the tight time constraints you had I understand how things went down. The stuff still sounds really good – just would be nice to get some pacing to help you appreciate the heavier part, which you probably would have done if you had an extra hour to think about the songs! Even a relentless song like “Disposable Heroes” by Metallica (one of my favorite songs of all time) has the ability to build up and provide a climax to the song.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum, I remember watching a documentary about the making of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album and they were talking to George Martin about the production and at one point he used the phrase “an orgasm of sound” and that always stuck with me (seeing a 70 year old man say the word “orgasm” will typically stick in your memory, usually for all the wrong reasons) as an example of good production. Good music well produced will have that – a release of the energy and emotion that has been built up through the song.

  5. burn disc, click that and just wait. You can also burn CD’s with Windows media player and reylalpaer, but itunes is easiest, especially if you’re downloading the songs to itunes.If you’re unsure of anything theres hundreds of videos on youtube that will show you how to do it

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