Siren Review by Ian Wise

The Love Commando’s Siren is a document of a band that has existed as a casual live band around Birmingham, England since 1992. Legend tells the band formed to play a one off gig at a local university and found the experience too much fun to give up on so easily. Surprisingly, this disc is the first official release from the band. The disc consists of a mere nine songs (and an outro track), giving a short introduction to a band that has such a long past.

The opener, “Barrel of a Gun”, is vaguely inspired by the Red hot Chili Peppers and is driven by a steady, heavy drum beat and a wah-wah effect of the guitar taking up the whole right channel. The vocals are clear and full, with absolutely no strain or wavering. The singer has developed a strong voice and a justified sense of confidence during the bands live tenure, and it rings loud and true on this recording. The guitar work isn’t flashy or overdone, and the dirty, distorted guitar solo just runs slowly up a tonal scale and then stays in a limited range, pulling every last drop of sweat from bent notes. The guitarist pushes energy harder than technique. It’s wonderfully done.

“(((This is the Sound)))” is another high energy rock track with a complex but catchy vocal melody. The vocals have more grit to them than the previous track, and the long wails in the upper vocal range sounds Chris Cornell, a feat in itself. The song is complete and total top 40 material, though the sound they are copping dates back to the early 90’s. “Breed” opens with a synthesizer with changing variables. The sound is out of vogue, but is tastefully done in such a small dose. The guitar riffing is still high energy and the spot on the entire time. The sticatto riff on the pre-chorus is perfectly executed and provides a good stutter in the song without bringing backing off the energy. The guitars dropping out later in the chorus provide the same effect. The keyboards are simple and layed under the back end of the mix in the production. They’re barely noticeable, but add a good depth to the song that fills out the signal and provides a good reference for the actual chord progression that is missed in the guitar riffing.

After “Breed”, the band tears into “Me and the Ghost of You”. The vocals aren’t as strong on this track as the rest of the album, but the guitar work is excellent, from the Van Halen style riff after the chorus to the nuances thrown around the chord progression in the verse. The guitar solo is run through a much dryer signal than most of the guitars on the album, but the little bit of overdrive pushing the highs over the rest of the mix sounds great. The production on this track sounds better than anything else on this disc. “Babylon” closes out the disc as a sleeper. The syncopated guitar riff is catchy enough, and the chorus provides a decent enough hook, but it would have been nice to hear the band take a stab at a ballad to close out their debut. The guitar soloing goes on for a little too long, providing a little bit of anti climactic end for the disc, but it far from ruins the record.

The only real negative about Siren is the thin production. The guitar signal lacks a real “bite” that would make the record sound a lot more powerful. The drums are leveled well, but sound small. A good mastering job would do this recording a lot of good. As far as songwriting goes, however, Love Commandos are at the top of their game.

Review by Ian Wise
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Ian Wise has been an active participant in underground music for the past decade, helping book tours for bands from the U.S. and Europe as well as running his own small label. He ran the Going Through the Motions web zine and podcast, covering the gamut of underground music, and his writing has also been featured in American Music Press, Hails and Horns, and Razorcake. An avid music fan and record collector, his tastes span from hardcore punk to garage, soul, ska, rockabilly and anything else deemed appropriately mischievous enough to fall outside of mainstream medias eye.

Original review available here.