If It Ain't Broke, Break It! [7/27] - Starwood
Starwood Is New On The Scene, And They're Already Breaking Things

Jul 19 '04

Author's Product Rating:

Pros: Excellent arena rock songs; terrific electric guitars

Cons: Only 9 tracks; leaves you wanting more

The Bottom Line: This is one of the best albums of 2004. It will be underappreciated (of course). Do yourself a favor and check it out. HIGHLY recommended.

Review: So, with Gene Simmons releasing his own album, and KISS touring with Aerosmith last year, is the era of arena rock coming back to the forefront again? Starwood thinks so. Frankly, I'd never heard of the band prior to hearing this album. I had a suggestion or two from those that had heard the advance previously, so I checked it out. They're a hard rocking band that can definitely count KISS, Aerosmith, Twisted Sister, and even AC/DC among their influences. This is an absolutely rocking album that I can't say enough about. And since If It Ain't Broke, Break It! is their debut, I expect more great things from this band.

Starwood Is:
Lizzy (Lead Vocals, Guitar)
Joe Steals (Guitar, Backing Vocals)
Joey Scott (Drums, Backing Vocals)
Marten Andersson (Bass, Backing Vocals)

KISS-inspired Subculture kicks off If It Ain't Broke, Break It! in magnificent fashion. Growling guitars and pounding bass drums background a loud yet catchy song. The chorus is both brash and memorable. During this song, if you find yourself standing and pumping your fist in the air, don't worry--it's perfectly normal. Based on this song alone, I think Starwood would be amazing live. When listening to the album, you just want to crank the stereo as loud as it goes. The guitars get to wailing at times, adding to the arena rock flair of the song.

Won't Back Down is a raucous bit of sing-along song. Lizzy's shouting is musical by itself. At times he makes the band sound like a mixture of every great 80's rock band thrown into the same room and turned up to the max. Guitar accompaniments are excellent here; the drumming is rhythmic, but not exactly complicated. What's Your Damage starts with a grinding guitar intro that makes the song. Continuing throughout, the guitars are loud and proud. Lizzy's vocals are sarcastic sounding yet very well-done. They sound pretentious, but that's seemingly how the band wants to sound. As far as the chorus goes, it's out of this world. Straight out of a KISS For Dummies book, this is yet another great track. The bridge is a well-executed guitar solo.

Starwood goes a little more low-key with All My Girlfriends Have Boyfriends. Well, low-key for them anyway. More emphasis on percussion here lets the vocal sounds really lead the song. Sure, there's background guitars, but the drums really accompany Lizzy's voice well. And hey, it's a cool title with a sing it out loud chorus. Social Zero is a little more on the punk side for the band. Wailing guitars electrify the song, emphasized by percussion. Between the screaming of the song and the mindless playing that the backing instruments do, this song fits the punk genre best. And when you consider the lyrics, it fits even better.

Starting like something out of Aerosmith 101, great drums kick off If It Ain't Broke, Break It, the title track. Lizzy channels a little Steven Tyler here, with howling arena rock. It's repetitive but incredibly fun. Backlash leads off with some harmonizing. When the lead vocals kick in, they're going a mile a minute. Lizzy doesn't really need to scream here. The rest of the band backs him up by repeating many of the lines. It's not their best song since the vocals drown out much of the instrument work. It's all a mess of noise in the background except during the bridge; there you can hear the smooth guitar work.

You're So Real is another loud, fast track. Excellent electric guitars make this a winner, even if the vocals leave something to be desired. They're repetitive, but it's the exact opposite of Backlash (there, the vocals drown out the instruments). Closing the album is Bad Machine. Superb guitars get this one started off right. A few shouts of "Hey, hey, hey!" lead into Lizzy's vocals. This song has an absolutely electric sound to it. It just exudes 80's rock and roll in a 100,000 seat stadium with fans screaming. Vocals are repetitive, but the rest of the band does their part to making this song awesome. Namely, a group of Eddie Van Halen-esque guitar riffs in the last minute or so.

What can I say about a band like this? Well, you've never heard of them, so I'll say this. If you're a fan of arena rock (a la Aerosmith and KISS), you'll love the album. If you like rock and roll, you'll love the album. If you're a fan of pretty much any rock, you'll love it. Unless you refuse to acknowledge the roots of everything that is modern rock, you'll love it. There, I said it. Don't expect a ton of inspirational or complex lyrics; there aren't many. It's a partying album, much like Andrew W.K.

There's a few weaker songs on here, but they really just underscore the various strengths of Starwood. From an excellent vocal singer to a wonderful guitar player to a drummer and bass player that do a brilliant job, this is a well-rounded band. I'm definitely including this on my Best Albums of 2004 list. So far, there have been very few albums that blew me away this year; Starwood has one of them.

Track Ratings:
Subculture: |5/5|
Won't Back Down: |5/5|
What's Your Damage: |4/5|
All My Girlfriends Have Boyfriends: |5/5|
Social Zero |4/5|
If It Ain't Broke, Break It!: |5/5|
Backlash: |4/5|
You're So Real: |4/5|
Bad Machine: |5/5|

Overall Rating: 41/45, which is 4.56, which rounds up to 5 stars

THIS ALBUM IS A NOMINEE TO THEMAFIAGOD'S "BEST OF 2004" LIST, TO BE RELEASED IN LATE DECEMBER 2004 OR EARLY JANUARY 2005. All future nominees will receive this stamp of endorsement.

This review is T. Pascarella, 2004. All rights reserved.

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