Album review – Ironhead’s 1000 Nights
By Brian Tucker
There are sounds instantly identifiable in American culture – the growl of a muscle car or the scorching pitch of a chainsaw running at full speed. Sounds primal and clear to anyone’s ear. The same can be said of hard rock guitar riffing, namely those done with wild rock energy. A street urchin-meets-blue collar attitude is all over local hard rock band Ironhead’s latest album 1000 Nights, a blazing set of songs unfurling hard and fast beginning to end.
Ironhead is playing a show at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern Saturday night with The Damned Angels and The Hell No. The trio released 1000 Nights two weeks ago via Bandcamp after a hiatus between albums. Ironhead used to call Virginia home but band members (and husband and wife) Johnny and Angela Yeagher moved to Wilmington a few years ago and launched a duo called The Luvrs.
That group produced some very catchy, high powered punk rock done with a sugar coated polish. But the Yeaghers took a break from The Luvrs, played with Thunderlip for a spell, and then decided to return to Ironhead. They’ve been playing shows ever since and got to recording new tunes early this year.
Bassist Angela Yeagher feels good about the new material. She should. The album, produced by Ian Millard, has a clear focus and sounds different than previous albums. Loud and overflowing with energy, it moves with tnergy like a caged man suddenly free.
“This is by far the best set of songs we have ever written. We wanted a total straight forward rock and roll album – no frills, no gimmicks, no metal, just pure raw rock with catchy high energy songs. I think we finally accomplished it,” Angela said.
1000 Nights is their first album in about five years and it is indeed and straight up rock and roll record, culling from American rock history across eight tracks of sneering, hard charging music. Amongst the grinding, blistering guitar playing you’ll recognize shades of bands like KISS, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, even The Rolling Stones. These are styles that have been imprinted on certain musicians, becoming part of their DNA and channeled in new music.
From the machine gun blast of opening track “It Doesn’t Matter…To Me” to slick bar band closer “Do It Again” the songs are full tilt most of the time. Johnny Yeagher’s caustic, clear-cut vocals soar across a track like gut puncher “What I’m Talkin’ About.”
Even better is the groove heavy “Get with This,” a four alarm fire that encapsulates the album’s energy with fangs bared. Johnny throws down from the beginning – “I like to live in the darkness, that’s where it’s happening” and then slings away on the chorus “We sleep our days away/We live another way/We do our dancing in the dark.” Night time living or something else, it’s your choice, but either way its a knockout song.
On “Going Down” the band incorporates keys and in the middle marries a wailing, psychedelic guitar and breakdown percussion with cowbell. It sounds like it should be coming out of car stereo circa 1975. These are songs highlighting a great album, one smartly combining old school hard rock with the brashness of swagger filled punk rock. More importantly, it’s music to be played loud, loud, loud.