CLASSLESS ACT – Welcome To The Show (Album Review)

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Now here’s a band with class.

With more than 50 years of history at hard rock’s back, the possibilities at the disposal of any new band adopting the genre are nothing if not vast. Whether it be the vintage bluesy swagger that typified the 70s southern rock craze, the impact-based aggression with a tall order of glitz that defined the Sunset Strip sound of the 80s, or the dark and grimy mold of its various alternative offshoots during the 90s, it would behoove any band looking to shake things up in the 2020s to consider them all when searching for their own unique stylistic niche. That has been the approach taken by what has come to be rock’s newest sensation in L.A.’s Classless Act, a band that started as a conglomeration of like-minded acquaintances via social media in 2019 and has since been making some fairly sizable waves via a number of popular singles on the streaming music front. But the ultimate test of any newcomer hard rock act is getting the job done on a certified studio LP, and on that end of things their crackerjack debut “Welcome To The Show” delivers.

In much the same fashion as the seminal work of The Black Crowes in the early 90s and Buckcherry at the turn of the millennium, this newly minted album brings a vintage flavor into the present with the obligatory trappings of its day. Leading the charge is vocalist Derek Day, who recalls an impressive assortment of vocal personas in his highly eclectic and power-driven approach, with the piercing highs of Robert Plant, the gusto of Roger Daltrey, the grit of Axel Rose and the happy-go-lucky charm of David Lee Roth being the most blatant. But this quintet is also the total package, and between the expressive and fairly flashy lead guitar work of Griffin Tucker, the busy and crunchy riff work of rhythm guitarist Dane Pieper, and the rock-solid rhythm section laid down by bassist Franco Gravante and kit man Chuck McKissock, a sweet spot is hit that ends up churning out a consistent succession of 12 highly engaging and varied anthems.

But for all the old school elements that stand at the fore, there is a very current sense of punch and vitality to this music that keeps it from becoming completely retro, particularly in how the rustic and compact character of these songs are given a massive boost in studio production. At first glance, the driving feel of opening banger and the band’s own self-titled romp “Classless Act” conjures up memories of Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart” (helped along by the fact that Vince Neil himself makes an appearance on it), but a closer perusal finds more of a 70s southern rock flavor, complete with a wailing harmonica solo during the breakdown segments before Pieper rocks out a Slash-inspired bluesy shred fest. Likewise, the successive hard rock 1-2 punch in “This Is For You” and “Time To Bleed” sees the former building a collage of Led Zeppelin, Queen and Guns ‘N’ Roses smatterings and coming out with something very 2022 in presentation, while the latter blends elements of W.A.S.P. and AC/DC into a truly infectious mid-paced rocker with Day occasionally some mellower Chris Robinson elements in with his signature gritty shouts and belted high notes.

It can’t be stressed enough that this is an opus built out of a wide array of influences, and sometimes one can’t help but note a strong degree of modern touches. This first becomes obvious on the spacey semi-balladry of “On My Phone”, which presents the current craze of living one’s life through smart phones in an appropriately gloomy light, bearing a strong resemblance to current day alternative rock and post-grunge acts. The effects-heavy and occasionally pop/rock styled “Made In Hell” presents an even more extreme deviation from conventional hard rock territory, while the jazzy twist with a heavy edge of “Walking Contradiction” also rings a bit atypical when compared with where this album started. On the other hand, “Storm Before The Calm” sees a return of the aforementioned Mötley Crüe influences, though presenting as a modernized answer to “Home Sweet Home”. Throw in a Queen-inspired quasi-operatic bit of musical theater styled rock in “Thoughts From A Dying Man” and a punk-tinged upbeat cruiser in “Haunting Love” and it’s safe to say that this band has hit nearly every major base in rock’s extensive realm.

In this day and age where nearly everybody presumes that the majority’s unrelenting obsession with the latest teen pop heartthrob or bombshell equates to yet another obituary for hard rock, one need look no further than this impressive new LP to field an all-encompassing rebuttal. Arguably the only thing that really works against this album to any extent is the fact that it has so many varied elements on display that it almost feels like overkill, as they literally throw everything at their newly acquired audience by the kitchen sink. Nevertheless, it’s no mystery as to why this fold was tapped as a regular support act for the ongoing Stadium Rock tour headlined by Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, and also featuring Poison and Joan Jett And The Blackhearts. The precedent that has been set here would allow for any band to attain mass appeal while also being able to freely explore the stylistic possibilities that still lay out there, and between said tour and this impressive first showing in the studio, it’s safe to say that Classless Act will be a hot item for the foreseeable future.

Released By: Better Noise Music
Release Date: June 24th, 2022
Genre: Hard Rock

“Welcome to the Show” track-list:

  1. Classless Act (feat. Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe)
  2. This Is For You (feat. Justin Hawkins of The Darkness)
  3. Time To Bleed
  4. On My Phone
  5. All That We Are
  6. Made In Hell
  7. Storm Before the Calm
  8. Haunting Love
  9. Walking Contradiction
  10. Give It To Me
  11. Circles
  12. Thoughts from a Dying Man

Classless Act is:

  • Derek Day / Vocals
  • Dane Pieper / Guitars
  • Griffin Tucker / Guitars
  • Franco Gravante / Bass
  • Chuck McKissock / Drums

“Welcome to the Show” can be ordered in various formats here.

8.6 Excellent

Keeping up with the times while remembering the glory days of hard rock, a new fold of musicians have put together a superb display of musical versatility that ties in every aspect of the style from the 70s to the present

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5

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