Thirteen - Simon Chainsaw (Dark Roasted/Pitshark)
There’s a familiar sound to all Simon Chainsaw records and it’s not going to change radically any time soon. It owes much to Sydney’s mid-‘80s underground scene - Simon being the one constant member of the Vanilla Chainsaws - and adds dashes of punk, pop and hard rock from myriad other places.
So of course “Thirteen” sounds a lot like the preceding 12 Simon Chainsaw studio albums. You expected techno? Simon’s distinctive vocal rasp, chunky guitars just this side of metal, an inherent sense of melody and lyrics about girls, the road and the resilience of rock and roll are all a given.
Even so, there are stylistic departures (keys on “Cried a Million Tears”, lap steel on the anthemic “Take My Rock ’n’ Roll Back”) and the classic Oz Rock influence cuts through elsewhere, notably on “Firestorm” which features AC/DC session drummer Tony Currenti.
“Thirteen” was mostly recorded with Simon’s most recent Brazilian band, prior to his relocation to Sydney after 18 years in South America. Lead guitarist Robinson Kist gets ample rein to show off his well burnished chops and the engine room of Viniguis Zanus and drummer Luigi Rokero are solid troopers.
When you sing a lot about the enduring nature of rock and roll it’s inevitable that you’ll pull out a few lyrical cliches. - “I’m ready to rock/If you’r ready to roll on “Lock and Load”, for example. “Thirteen” also throws up one of Simon’s best recent songs, the reflective “Relax”.
It’s a mid-tempo rocker punctuated by restrained harmonies and a swelling guitar solo The words are about growing older, wiser and being true to yourself. It (vaguely) hints at an alt.country direction that Simon’s exploring with a new Sydney band, Broham. Which means I could imagine it being played, alt-country style.
The super catchy “Get On With The Show”, “Be Yourself (Choose Individuality)”, the effervescent closer “Two Steps Forward” and “Legends” all mine that familiar punk-pop ground.