Rock Sugar - Reimaginator Grade: 4 out of 5 stars
By: Susan Sliwicki Goldmine Magazine
With shiny jeans, plenty of tattoos and a copious supply of
hair, the men of Rock Sugar unapologetically bring to life every hair metal
stereotype in the book. But like a thinking man’s Spinal Tap, Rock Sugar is so far
in on the joke, the group is writing the punchlines.
Their Reimaginator CD sat on my desk for over a week, and I
almost didn’t listen to it. But like a kind of musical car crash, I just
couldn’t bring myself to look away, so I finally gave in and gave it a listen.
I really wanted to hate it.So you can imagine my surprise when I finally slipped the CD
into the player and was so blown away by their collective musical finesse that
I broke out in goosebumps. Drummer Alex Track’s beats are rock steady,
guitarist Chuck Duran clearly knows his way around all the best power chords,
and lead singer Jess Harnell displays a jaw-droppingly awesome range of vocals.
Each tune hooks up a set of what should be incredibly
mismatched tunes from the ’60s,’70s and/or ’80s in such a way that they’re both
familiar and groundbreaking at the same time. I mean, who in their right mind
would ever pair the mushy 10cc ballad “I’m Not In Love” with a
balls-to-the-wall metal anthem like Judas Priest’s “Breakin’ The Law” to spawn
“Breakin’ The Love”? Yet, it totally works.
Journey, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Loverboy, Warrant,
Ratt, KISS, Queen, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith, Joan Jett, Motley Crue,
Madonna, Paula Abdul, Eurythmics, Supertramp… they're all here. If you think it
can’t — or shouldn’t — be done, Rock Sugar is willing to pitch the songs in
their musical blender and give it a whirl.
After listening to the album twice, I’m still hard-pressed
to figure out either my favorite song or the strangest combination, because
they all work, albeit in some kind of parallel-universe version of a “Glee”
mashup. What’s most impressive to me is the sheer number of songs that Rock
Sugar “re-imagined” that I either didn’t like or had tired of hearing, but
which I absolutely love in these new, unconventional arrangements.
So, where the heck have these guys been? Are they karaoke
sharks in disguise? Are they just more creative than your typical cover band?
Or are they incredible performers struggling with writer’s block when it comes
to creating all-original material?
I hope Rock Sugar can deliver an album of all-original
material that lives up to the potential they’ve shown here.
— Susan Sliwicki