The Bangkok Five – 10 The Hard Way (CD)

The Bangkok Five mainly rely on their screeching guitars to provide their listeners with a style of rock that seems perfectly at home on Clearchannel stations. The band is influenced by what was such a major force on the radio a few years back; tracks like “Dead Lights” bring forth the fact that Weezer and Incubus have irreversibly influenced the band. “Spread Eagle” is a hard-retro-rock track, in the vein of bands like Monster Magnet, Franz Ferninand and Fu Manchu, although the major thing that delineates “Spread Eagle” from the masses of mediocre rock is an ear for pop sensibilities that makes the track continually accessible to listeners. “I’m Not Here” continues with the rock, but looks back even further back to Judas Priest, Queensryche and even Iron Maiden, but the band recontextualizes this rough, raw sound into a neat and tidy indie-rock track. The final track on “10 The Hard Way”, “Sunk” really does not jive with the rest of the fare to be found on the disc.

“Sunk” is much more college-rock with anything, even incorporating a guitar line throughout the track that looks back to Dishwalla even as the song structure screams Rusted Root/Jane’s Addiction and the vocals just beg to be compared to Dave Matthews. The re cording that is present during “10 The Hard Way” is hard to surpass; everything sounds ready and feels almost destined to have a life on the airwaves. What holds The Bangkok Five back is the fact that their tracks are conducted in a virtually antiseptic environment. Tracks like “Dead Lights” may have immense energy and power, but everything flawlessly avoids their contemporaneous instruments.

Thus, there is no tension to drive up the stakes for the track, leaving listeners with the very warmed-over track that is found on the disc. When the band does break out from this perfect environment, one can see the ability of the band – on the aforementioned “Dead Lights”, the drum/bass dynamic to be found will bring a heart rate up fast. Similarly stifling for The Bangkok Five are their unabashed aping of the current rock-revival sound during the aforementioned “Spread Eagle”. Perhaps if the band was influenced equally by bands like Electric Six and Franz Ferdinand instead of aping these two acts, the track (and by extension, this EP) would be able to succeed much easier. Wait until their next full-length before listening to The Bangkok Five.

Top Track: Spread Eagle

Rating: 5.7/10

The Bangkok Five – 10 The Hard Way / 2005 Aeronaut Records / 5 Tracks / http://www.thebangkokfive.com / http://www.aeronautrecords.com / Reviewed 28 June 2005

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