If ever a band had the perfect name it has to be The Answer. I guess the only better name for the foursome from Downpatrick, Northern Ireland would be 'The Answer To The Future Of Great Classic Rock', but that’s a bit of a mouthful.
This band arrived on the scene with their exceptional debut album Rise a couple of years ago. It was described by salivating rock journos the world over, as something akin to the answer itself. Kerrang and Classic Rock magazines were both quick to pick up on the band and have added their substantial backing ever since. Classic Rock described Rise as, ‘the best British rock debut of the decade’. They haven’t shifted from that position either.
It wasn’t just the scribblers who got excited, The Answer soon had even more heavyweight admirers such as Zeppelin legend Jimmy Page, and Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott. Then another guy who knows a few things about singing this brand of blues drenched rock, Paul Rodgers, added his enthusiastic support.
With an almost unseemly haste their rise (excuse the pun) earned them supporting slots with a few bands you may have heard of, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Whitesnake, Aerosmith, and most recently AC/DC. It doesn’t get much better does it? Having said that, we all know it could all go a bit flat if the second album isn’t right, right?
Yes, that last statement is a rock 'n' roll cliché but sadly it is also a very well established one. Several rising hotshots have fallen flat on their faces or at least lost momentum with a lacklustre follow up. Maybe it is because the expectations from all and sundry are just a little too high.
It doesn’t have to be that way of course. As a random example Led Zeppelin II gives a bit of a clue that there is also a well established tradition that second albums can also be rather special.
The Answer haven’t fallen into the trap that many secretly feared they would. They haven’t changed the formula. In other words they haven’t tried to fix something that clearly isn’t broken. As a result they have delivered an album that, if anything, takes the huge promise shown with Rise that logical and highly powerful step forward.
Several months ago I reviewed their interim EP releases Never Too Late on this site. The reason that came out was because many of us had played Rise to death. Not that you can easily grow tired of such excellent stuff. Also, of course, the band was about to embark on the, not so easy prospect, of opening for AC/DC.
That done, and done superbly well, it’s time for this, the new album, Everyday Demons. Do they deliver? Well the answer has to be a resounding, foot stomping, long haired, dirty jeans, whisky bottled, fired up amp, riff rocking, sweaty, YES.
I am going to try and avoid possible comparisons with early Led Zeppelin, and go for one that slaps me across the face several times throughout Everyday Demons, The Black Crowes. The Answer, like the early Crowes, unashamedly tap into the huge well of magic created by the hard rock scene of the late sixties and early seventies.
It’s been done to various degrees by various bands ever since, of course. The Answer are now right up there with the best of them. They succeed in giving it a shot of 2009 adrenalin that reignites the format and makes it continue to be relevant.
Lead singer Cormac Neeson has clearly been gargling diesel in the rear of their van, if they still have to use one. Guitarist Paul Mahon has doubtless sold his soul at the crossroads leading to Riffville. Bass player Michael Waters and drummer James Heatley provide a powerhouse that would rival the national grid. This is hard rock, as it was always intended to be.
From the opening salvo of “Demon Eyes” right through to the bonus track “Revolution” The Answer never waste an opportunity. It’s the proverbial b***s to the wall rock.
“Too Far Gone” has me thinking back to a time that I feared was nearly gone. “On And On” provides the first single from the album and is a track easily strong enough to turn yet more of the rock hungry buyers out there on to The Answer.
At my age I am grateful when the slower tempo “Cry Out” arrives sounding like it has come from a lost Free session tape. In my view this track propels Cormac Neeson straight to the top of today’s rock singing pedestal. No wonder Paul Rodgers got all enthusiastic.
“Why’d You Change Your Mind” somehow underlines that earlier Crowes reference with a stand out classic that got right under my skin. When it opens out you had better remove all glass from a safe radius. It’s exceptional in every way.
The uplifting (isn’t it all?) “Pride” just has to be another single. “Walkin’ Mat” shows how confident this band has justifiably become. Cormac delivers some near Steve Marriott moments on the chorus and, anyone who knows me will know, that I don’t fling that compliment around lightly.
“Tonight” struts and strides its way from your speakers. “Dead Of The Night” just rocks, what else do I need to say? “Comfort Zone” provides exactly that and gives me a chance to regain some dignity and more importantly my breath. It has a rich psychedelic vibe that the band carries off perfectly.
“Evil Man” wraps up powerfully before the bonus track “Revolution” gives us even more of the answer.
I’ve said enough. I need to lie down with a cold flannel across my forehead and play something more delicate as an antidote. Within minutes though I’ll be fumbling for the play button to hear more of this. Everyday Demons, indeed.