The Lanternjack

Look Alive

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The liner notes of Look Alive refer to Lanternjack frontman Johnny Flash as "narrator," rather than singer or vocalist. The reference is valid, since it's Flash's snide bellow that unifies the LP's 14 tracks, and often is the blowtorch that lights a fire under his band's blue-collar hard rock jamming. Lanternjack definitely isn't inside the crowded Detroit garage punk barroom, but the band might be in the alley, smoking cigarettes and glowering at passersby. That said, they listened to the strutting, gritty posturing of the Stooges through the wall, and that sound informs Lanternjack's street-level metal. The midtempo slumming of "Come Around" and "Mexican Lap Dance" let Lanternjack draw on its more glammy side, while "Thighs" features some fiery leads from guitarist Luke Wood. There's nothing on Look Alive that listeners haven't heard before -- it's all pretty straightforward, and Flash's narration is most often an extended come-on to whichever groupies might be in attendance. But what's wrong with that? The band has effectively removed pretense from its sound, retaining the boozy, heady vibe of early glam, but channeling it through face-punching hard rock that often intersects Danzig with stoner metal types like Fu Manchu. Although Flash even bears a vocal resemblance to both Glenn Danzig and the Fu's Scott Hill, the similarity is never a detriment. He even sells the impossibly clich├ęd lyrics of "Warzone" ("Every bottle's a thrill/Every bar's a warzone") with his own ballsy presence on the mike, aided by his band's unapologetic sludge. You can almost picture the broken glass glinting in the harsh light of last call. Look Alive won't revolutionize anything. But Flash and Lanternjack deserve credit for getting by almost exclusively on grime and attitude.

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