Butch Walker

The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites

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Butch Walker has been doing the '70s-inspired rock thing for quite a while, and doing it quite well, though without much acclaim from the general public. The music biz has embraced him as a hot producer, though. Working with Avril Lavigne, Pink, Lindsay Lohan, and Tommy Lee as well as on the second season of Rock Star has brought Walker some connections, fame, and money. Certainly it has given him plenty to write about on his 2006 album, The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites. The lyrics trawl the seamy side of L.A. fame and are filled with drugged-out starlets, late nights, struggling actors, wild parties, and huge morning-afters with pit stops at politics and the music business. The members of his large band whip through the tunes like pros with something to prove, sounding full and tough but also a bit unhinged at times when the moment calls for it, and sensitive when Walker brings the mood down on the ballads. There is a strong Marc Bolan current running through the album, and you also get hints of classic rockers like Thin Lizzy and Badfinger, modern power poppers like the Posies and Oasis (especially on the ballads), and guys like Pete Yorn and Sam Roberts, but you never get any sense that Walker is copping riffs or attitude -- he has arrived at a sound that is informed by his influences but totally his own. Not to mention the fact that, influences aside, the record is a blast, careening from the fiery political rocker "Paid to Get Excited" to the country corn of "Rich People Die Unhappy," from the lush balladry of "This Is the Sweetest Little Song" to the champagne glass-rattling fever of should-be-a-hit-single "Hot Girls in Good Moods." Although it sounds like he might be a little sick of the big-time music biz scene and the junk that comes along with it, Walker should keep the day job if it inspires albums as much fun as this.

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