Bad Wizard

Free and Easy

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Though they hail from the alt-rock mecca of Athens, GA, Bad Wizard keep their collective feet firmly planted in the classic rock world -- '70s hard rock and the late-'60s Detroit sound to be precise. Now based in New York City, the ill-shaven combo's rambunctious 2001 debut, Free and Easy, is a retro-rock wet dream come true, recycling tried and true classic rock riffs with a healthy dollop of distortion and enthusiasm inspiring in their simplicity. In many ways, Free and Easy is similar to an AC/DC album in that three-chord nuggets like "Lay Your Love on Me" and "Tiger Tooth" are instantly familiar to rock & roll-schooled ears (almost disturbingly so, at times), but one still can't help but ignore these coincidences, such is the band's conviction in getting them across. "Come On" is pure Bon Scott-era AC/DC, the frenetic "Keep High/Stay Low" is little more than an excuse to let loose and solo like crazy, MC5-style, and the Four Horsemen-ish "Natural High" is simply awesome, the band cutting loose with wild abandon behind wild-eyed frontman Curtis Brown's full-throated howl. The fact that the entire disc clocks in at less than half an hour only adds to the raw vitality captured herein, qualifying Free and Easy as one of the new millennium's first retro-rock classics.

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