THE COLD STARES
Head Bent – DD//CD//Ltd. Ed. LP
Small Stone Records – Release Date: June 16th, 2016
Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
I always dig it when a band I’ve been hip to for awhile, usually when hardly anyone else was aware of them on a large scale, begins to break out of thay pseudo “obscurity”. Nashville, Tennessee’s The Cold Stares are possibly the next band in my wide spectrum of somewhat secret enjoyments that are poised to experience that revealing spotlight. See, I saw the band back three or four years ago when they were out supporting Rival Sons (I think it was) on a date here in Kentucky. I was immediately sold on the duo of guitarist/vox Chris Tapp and drummer/vox Brian Mullins aka The Cold Stares for a variety of reasons, usual ones like the fact that the guys make flat-out incredible music. It’s almost incomprehensible to believe or even accept that it is just two guys playing this astounding music, getting this amazing sound, wielding this inhuman power.
Now, after a couple of well-received EP releases and the ice-breaking 2014 effort A Cold Wet Night And A Howling Wind, the duo are back with their new full-length, ‘Head Bent‘. The eleven song opus was produced and mixed by the band with Greg Pearce and mastered by Chris Goosman (Acid King, La Chinga, Solace, Lo Pan, Freedom Hawk, etc.). It just dropped this past week on June 16th via Small Stone Records and I assure you now, with all foregone knowledge and sincerity, this record is going to blow your mind, my friends.
Continuing in the Small Stone tradition of hosting some of the best, heaviest, hard rock hitting the ground rocking and a’ rolling, there comes this. Yes, this is exactly what Rock & Roll in the year of our Lord 2017 sounds like, music rife with testicular fortitude and an undiluted, devil-may-care attitude. Taking heaping piles of blues and Americana-flavored folk rock into their own sound, The Cold Stares emerge victorious masters of electrified emotion here. Songs like ‘John‘, ‘Ball And Twine‘ and ‘Break My Fall‘ are full of soul, each exudes ample amounts of raw emotion and talent. But even they are mere drops in the bucket when you tear into the meat and marrow of this outing.
From the darker doom moments of ‘Neighbor Blues‘ to the blistering ‘Stuck In A Rut‘ or the Led Zeppelin-meets-Aerosmith feel of ‘Kings‘, there’s limitless miles of territory traversed. Just when you think you’ve heard the best the album could possibly offer, the next song queued up obliterates that assumption. Title track ‘Head Bent‘ or the astounding stand-outs ‘Price To Pay‘ and ‘One Way Outta Here‘ will simply blow you away. They simmer, they rock… they groove, they roll…all while you find yourself never wanting the album to end.