So I’d been hearing about these Bobaflex guys for awhile, right? I didn’t know anything about them or what they sounded like, though. I finally came across a vague description of them being sort of stoneriffic, so I decided to check them out and it turned out to be one of those rare blind purchases that I didn’t regret at all.
I brought home Tales From Dirt Town, put it in the old 5-disc changer, and happily went along with my evening. After awhile, it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet heard anything that I didn’t like. Now how often does THAT happen? We’re not talking one or two songs surrounded by duds. We’re talking one seriously solid album, here. Unheard of.
Maybe I wasn’t hearing it right. I listened again, and again… and then again in the car all the next day. I started singing along and bouncing to the groove. And I decided that Tales From Dirt Town has made itself, at a very visceral level, one of the all-around best hard rock albums I’ve heard since Priestess’ Hello Master.
I’ll be the first to admit that vocals make or break a band for me, and in Bobaflex’s case, the vocals are a great example of the kind of melodic but angry qualities in a metal singer that make me wet myself. Sometimes verging on growls, sometimes sliding into a scream that recalls Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows, passion abounds in the constant lyrical battle of “help me” vs. “screw you.” The only info I could find on the vocals states that two band members share duties, which explains things. Fortunately, both are well-suited to the task and don’t disappoint, even one slips into a slight faux-British accent at times.
And these songs, dude? They have character. They have swagger and soul set to a crunchy guitar and some top-notch riffage. They’re pissed off (and rightly so. These guys have had nothing but uphill battles; they’re well-deserving of their anger). They’re heartfelt, and they’re frantic. High-energy headbangers like “Sellout” and “Goodbye” keep the album moving along at a fast clip, invigorating what could‘ve been flat songwriting with unexpected harmonies and Tom Morello-esque guitar sounds, while relatively ballad-y tunes like “I Still Believe” and “Home” mix things up a little.
Speaking of “Home:” Bob Seger’s quintessential “touring is hard” song, “Turn the Page,” has nothing on Bobaflex’s little ditty about crowds who don’t care and getting fed up with life on the road. It captures the desperation of a band struggling to get above the radar with unusually self-aware aplomb, and still manages to throw a little nod to Seger in there with a particularly mournful, arena-inspired guitar lick.
If you have even a passing interest in straight-up rock infused with a little West Virginia bravado, then you won’t curse me for getting you to buy this album. No, it’s not perfect; it’s about 3 songs too long, and one of the slower songs (“Satisfied”) is pretty damn mediocre. On the whole, though, it’s well worth a listen. And then another, and another…