Album Reviews
Band: Tokyo Motor Fist

Title: Lions

Label: Frontiers Music Srl

 

Two things that are guaranteed to get you noticed in today's music business:

 

1. Give yourself a name that people are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

 

2. Make sure you play damn fine music!!

 

Well, Tokyo Motor Fist (yeah, I know!!) pull off both of these with seemingly no problem at all, and, tell ya what folks, you think their last self-titled album was good, then check out this 'un, because Ted Poley, Steve Brown, Chuck Burgi and Greg Smith have just raised the bar when it comes to this year's Melodic Rock Album Awards!

Delving straight in, opener 'Youngblood' goes off like fireworks on 4th July.  It's finger-melting fretwork and thudding drumbeat set up the song majestically before it settles into one of those anthemic gems that capture the imagination, as the sing-along, harmonious chorus is impossible NOT to join in to, as is the thunder-clapped intro'd 'Monster In Me', which sets it's stall out as one of those arms around your buddy's shoulders "whoa-whoa whoa'' chant-along choruses that we all love.  The subtle hints of keys giving the track a Vega/FM vibe, and I guarantee smiles all round, such is the upbeat feeling given off here.

 

'Around Midnight' comes across as one of those radio-friendly early 00's Fall Out Boy, choppy guitar corkers that ruled the airwaves back then, the non-stop energy literally breath taking even as the short burst of solo kicks in to give Ted Poley a quick break on vocals, before slamming back in to take the song on it's merry way to the end ... fantastic.  Yet just when you think surely the pace will drop ... erm ... nope ... in slams 'Mean It', where the bass-line from Greg Smith really stands out.  Meandering away like a good 'un, almost leading the fiery guitar and solid drums along for the ride on a wave of euphoria, and ... yes ... yes ... it's there folks ... the tambourine thrown in for good measure! Fantastic!! 

That tempo is drastically changed as the sad tones of 'Lions' seep on in with keyboards that can only be described as a mix of 1920's silent movie soundtrack to 60's sci-fi, and not surprisingly the lyrics match that mood, almost heart-breakingly apt for the World we have today.  Yet the hope given off shows how a few thought-provoking lines can be and how important as well.  Shaking us out of that rather sombre mood, 'Decadence On 10th Street' rattles the cage with a huge lick or two from Steve Brown and the thumping skins courtesy of Chuck Burgi, which make up probably the heaviest track on the album, the harmonies in the chorus still the stand out token, which they are throughout each track no matter how raunchy it gets, and it does here, so get the baby wipes out ... to give your brow a rub at the end of the song! What???

 

'Dream Your Heart Out' is one of those songs where you think another band or two have something similar in their repertoire, and I've already mentioned the two who spring to mind, as this is also a great example of hard-edged Melodic rock that is very keyboard-hinted, solo solid and as ever, foot-tappintastic, (eatcha heart out Tony Blackburn!!), though that couldn't be said of 'Blow Your Mind'.  The first of the closest to Rock balladry as you get on 'Lions', still with enough riffage to push it towards Def Lep territory, and you get a section of hand claps to help you along if you fancy a clap or two, but if not, then do you fancy hitting the dance-floor?

Well, get yer best clobber on and prepare to throw your best moves  as 'Sedona' is a butt-shaker of geet big proportions, the horn/sax section via Frosty Lawson and Mark Rivera light up this song like a beacon of hope, nudging things along in the right direction for you to 'shake what your Mamma gave you' as that well known saying goes, and along with the water-tight rhythm section/guitar in tandem, this is, for me, the icing on the cake!! 

'Look Into Me' settles things down to 'swoon mood' as soon as the acoustic guitar and subtle keys flow in together, Poley's heart-melting lyrics capable of winning any woman's attention as he lets all his emotions out of the bag, and if we ever get to hear this played live, those mobile torches will illuminate better than Blackpool Promenade, so fingers crossed then! 

This fantastic album is bought to it's closing by another uplifting and meaningful melodic rocker, 'Winner Takes All', it's violin intro from Michael Hunter giving the hint that there's a message to be heeded here, which ain't a bad thing to try and get over while the powerful music plays it's part, especially the chugging, urgent riffs that dominate the track, and quite rightly too ... after all, it IS a rock album!! 

 

'Lions' is the sound of Tokyo Motor Fist pushing themselves just that little bit more, being more 'World-aware' yet keeping nicely within the Melodic AOR frame that helped in us catching attention to them, and there's no doubt that this album will grace all those 'end of year' charts in the Rock magazines throughout the land, and it's a well deserved accolade to have, especially after the crappy year we've all had to go through, so well done TMF ... roll on album no.3.!!

Review by: Robb Baldwin

 

Tracklisting:

1.  Youngblood
2.  Monster In Me
3.  Around midnight
4.  Mean It
5.  Lions
6.  Decadence On 10th Street
7.  Dream Your heart Out
8.  Blow Your Mind
9.  Sedona
10. Look At Me
11. Winner Takes All

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