Friday, November 18, 2016

The Workhorse III - Closer To Relevance (2016)

Hailing from Philadelphia, this power trio combine elements of punk, classic rock, proto-thrash and even acoustic soft rock to make a very different kind of release with quite a degree of variety. This is actually the band's third recording, but it is one of ten releases on their Bandcamp page. Obviously, I was a little surprised when I was sent something like this, as I'm more of a metal guy and this is more punk-influenced than I'm used to, but it's really not bad and actually kind of catchy, which I like. Some of the tracks come off well as far as the choruses go, but the lyrics can be a bit off-key and that just seems to be part of the whole punk atmosphere.

I will say that guitarists/vocalists Lisa Christ Superstar and Steve McCarthy definitely bring the noise, as these compositions lremind me heavily of acts like Motorhead (“Soulcrusher” is a very good example) and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. Sometimes these tunes get a bit more funk and blues-laden, but there's a sort of rebellious edge to Superstar that really brings out numbers like “What's The Point”, “Life Of Crime” and opener “War Torn City” and shows a no-nonsense approach to the album.

The Workhorse III really play whatever kind of fucking rock music that they want, which equals out to a record that doesn't get boring fast. What's more, is that there are actually two vocalists fronting this band. McCarthy sings on a few cuts like the aformentioned “Soul Crusher” and “Find My Mind” while Superstar handles most of the others, including the album's unexpectedly acoustic rock closer “I Can't Forget” who I believe is about the loss of former guitarist/vocalist “Foxy” whom the entire disc is dedicated to. As for what happened to her, I'm not really sure because the pictures here in the digipack show that she was still very young, but I can only assume that it was a horribly unexpected tragedy. The pictures seem to show that she went out doing what she loved, which was to rock and surely there can be no greater privilege in life that that.

For some, the vocal performances here might not be as on-par as something you'd see on an American vaudeville program, but there's a necessary rawness that I think truly makes the band stand out. There are those acts that go full-on mainstream and autotune their vocals to make everything sound perfect and then there are those acts that give it to you real and raw. These guys have played a lot of shows, which is kind of what you get here on the record. It sounds like a live performance in some places. But they're not a pop band, they're a rock, punk, blues and kinda thrash and whatever else kind of band. You don't get that often in this industry, which is why it's not even in the industry. These guys seem to do everything independently, but the digipack release that I have here shows a very professional quality record with awesome artwork. I wasn't sure what to expect looking at the artwork and was even more surprised with the disc and type oif band I was getting when I opened it up.

The Workhorse III are definitely more punk than I'm used to, but I can't shy away an act that has gone above and beyond to produce so many different types of music on one disc. Name me three pop artists that have done the same. That's the difference between the underground and the industry. Maybe there's less money, but there's more integrity to be had. You'll be able to pick up a copy of Closer To Relevance when it drops on December 9th.

(12 Tracks, 33:00)


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