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Atari Ferrari - 'Rebel' Album Review


1. Just Wanna Know Ya

2. Born In The Wrong Time

3. Rebel

4. Middle Of Nowhere

5. Shade Of Grey

6. Alice

7. Trouble

8. Great Fortune

9. Gone Girl

10. Turn Your Back

Atari Ferrari hail from Spokane, Washington and were originally put together for a one-off performance to celebrate David Bowie’s life. The chemistry they debut on this record must have been electric that night as they have released a uniquely wonderful second album that rocks in part, rides power pop waves in others, hangs on gentle acoustic moments, and gives them a sense of identity. Much like the man that brought them together, Atari Ferrari do not want to be limited in the music they can create and are not afraid to take chances here.

‘Just Wanna Know Ya’ starts the album with a swaggering beat and dirty guitar riff with Matthew Hughes’ vocals sounding like a glam king from the 70’s. The music maintains an edge while also being coated with plenty of sheen for a great hook that sticks quickly. ‘Born In The Wrong Time’ follows things up and really fits the band thematically. The band channels the like of Roxy Music, Bowie, and T.Rex with great melodies and some pounding drums by Robert Shugert. The guitar work by Hughes and Eric Woodard perfectly compliments the song. The band throw in the first curve ball with the title track being an acoustic based Rock song that finds Hughes, Woodard, Scott Schultz (bass, vocals) hitting some awesome harmonies together. There are some subtle transitions in the song that allow Hughes to showcase his lead vocals. The band sound completely at odds with everything else at the moment, and it really works for them. I love the lyrics here and the guitar riff that keeps the song together. The acoustic passage at the end of the song is well done too.

The band then keep the surprises coming with the gentle ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ adding some subtle keys to the mix. As the beat picks up, the gentleness of the song doesn’t reminding me a bit musically of ‘Hates To Please’ by the Quireboys. The production here also reminds me of the way ‘Gish’ by the Smashing Pumpkins was mastered as the band is not afraid to show some wide dynamics in the mix. The first half of the record ends with the melancholy ‘Shade Of Grey.’ The band explores more dynamics here with the quiet verses playing perfectly against the powerful choruses. There is definitely a strong Bolan influence on this one.

‘Alice’ starts the back half of the record with the band back in full Rock mode. The tasteful guitar licks showcase a confident young band who clearly know they have tapped into something special together. A surge of feedback gets the epic ‘Trouble’ started which also showcases Schultz’ bass in the mix. When the band slows down to accentuate the chorus, the band again demonstrate their use of dynamics in tempo and playing perfectly off one another. The race to the finish over the final minute is one of my favorite moments from the album.

Similar to the first side of the record, the band brings on an acoustic song next in ‘Great Fortunes.’ Hughes is blessed with the perfect voice for songs like this as he sounds extremely fragile and like a man whose world is crumbling around him. This type of song would never be on the radio today which is a shame. ‘Gone Girl’ comes to life with a mix of swirling guitars slowly establishing a hypnotic riff. The surge in the chorus is huge and sees the band showing why you don’t mix everything in the red. When they decide to get loud, it sounds that much bigger because of how they pick their spots. Wrapping up the album is the midtempo ‘Turn Your Back’ which in some ways reminds me of early Manic Street Preachers. In some ways, this song is the band’s ace in the hole as the chorus is possibly the best on the album. It’s grandiose and on the verge of being over the top with the band hitting the perfect sweet spot. I would push this song to radio at some point and see what happens.

Atari Ferrari play music inspired by the likes of Bowie, Bolan, and others from the 70’s by way of bands like Redd Kross, the Manics to create a special album that is an extreme grower. If you are looking for a rock that just rocks from start to finish, this is not the album for you. If you want to go on a journey filled with glitter, grit, harmonies, and great music, Atari Ferrari delivers the goods.

‘Rebel’ is available now.

Review - Gerald Stansbury

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