Rawk N' Roll

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Back in the days when the Earth was flannel, metal had gone"'nu," and stoner rock was young (i.e., the late '90s), Boston quartet Roadsaw regularly found themselves mentioned alongside charter groups like Nebula and Fu Manchu during discussions of the burgeoning genre. But even though they had unleashed their debut album, Nationwide, in the midst of that movement's biggest surge of popularity, Roadsaw were really disciples of a much more timeless, clique-less school of stripped-down hard rock (no space flights for these cats). Hence the informative title of their sophomore record, Rawk n' Roll, which sadly vanished without a trace after being released through tiny independent Luna Sound in 2002, but was deservingly reissued by Small Stone five years later. But whether you've listened to it in 2002, 2007, 2009, or, by some miracle of time travel, 1977, chances are you'd find Roadsaw's universal brand of heavy blues-rock perfectly "contemporary" with that of '70s icons like the James Gang, Ted Nugent, or hometown heroes Aerosmith. Montrose is another band that comes immediately to mind (think "Bad Motor Scooter") while listening to Roadsaw specialties like "Right on Through," "Bad Ass Rising," "The Finger," and "Buried Alive," whose riffs actually sound like a stock car's motor revving. Elsewhere, guitarist Ian Ross pulls out all the stops for some truly sizzling guitar work on the Atomic Bitchwax-like "Disconnected," drummer Hari Hassin inserts a half-backwards drum solo into "Blackout Driver," and guest organist Eric Welsh adds another dimension to Hammond-ized cuts like "Foot" and the Doors-ish instrumental "That's Mr. Motherfucker to You." Finally, and definitely worth mentioning, there is the vocal elasticity of frontman Craig Riggs, whose soulful grit holds down center stage with confidence throughout, but really proves its mettle when isolated for the one-off blues ballad "Your Own Private Slice of Hell." In sum, it's somewhat understandable that Roadsaw's bare-bones Rawk n' Roll would be rather overlooked amidst the stoner rock scene's flashier competition, but as time goes on, that simplicity increasingly spares them from being dated along with it, and many of their peers.

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