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Kentucky trio dumb it
down and create a smart
party soundtrack

The Lions Rampant - It's Fun To Do Bad Things
(Deep Elm Records)
4 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 4, 2010
The Lions Rampant

Review by Tony Bonyata

I don't know about you, but every now and then I need a stiff blast of pure unadulterated rock n roll. You know the kind - loud snarling guitars, howling vocals and threatening breakneck rhythms; the same things that jump-started this whole damn genre more than half a century ago. Sure it's great that rock has spawned a gazillion subgenres and offshoots, but I'm always excited when a new act goes straight to the source for their inspiration and pulls it off. And that's just what The Lions Rampant have done.

On their debut effort It's Fun To Do Bad Things, the Kentucky trio summon up the same unbridled brand of rock 'n roll when it was at its most innocent and, arguably, dangerous - back in the mid-'60s when kids nationwide hammered out sloppy versions of British Invasion bands' songs on cheap Sears instruments in their parent's garages. What they may have lacked in technical proficiency, they more than made up for in sheer intensity, passion and the love of three chords played fast and loud. Such is the case with The Lions Rampant's new album, as they unapologetically rip through thirteen no-nonsense rockers steeped in '60s Nuggets-era garage rock, along with the gritty, working-class punk that slinked out of Detroit in the early '70s.

Songs such as the opening howler "Give Me," "Shake It Out," "I'm A Riot" and "I Need (Your Love)" all tap into the raw aggression of The Stooges in their infancy (albeit adding more melody to the latter number), while they also successfully channel Eric Burdon & The Animals on the swaggering title track. Pounding rockers such as "Leave Me Alone" sounds as if it might have been recorded by modern contemporaries The Datsuns or even Kentucky compatriots Cage The Elephant, while the closing track "Cigs & Gins" is reminiscent of the skuzzy blues rock of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. They even get a little trippy on the track "Do You Feel It," which pulls in some of the more psychedelic elements of late '60s pop.

Sometimes you just gotta step back, take in the big picture and, when all else fails, dumb it down and go back to square one. And in successfully dumbing it all the way down - not to mention turning it all the way up - these Kentucky badasses have produced one of the smartest and rockingest party records this year.

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