AC/DC, Power Up
After the most challenging period in their history – one that would leave lesser bands down for the count – AC/DC are back in the ring to take another swing, albeit without the late great Malcolm Young. Unlike a box of chocolates, with an AC/DC album you know exactly what you’re gonna get. And that’s fine with their legion of fans: powerful, dependable, familiar rock. There are recurring elements of Thunderstruck, while Code Red has a Back in Black rhythm and Shot in the Dark moments of Rock ’n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution. One track that does deviate slightly from the script is Through the Mists of Time, which recalls The Call’s Walls Came Down and finds frontman Brian Johnson with a touch of the Barnesys.
“It was a year that the clock stopped – It put an end to the open-mouth cough.” One of the few certainties in 2020 is that Rob Hirst is still an overachiever, releasing this album within weeks of his latest effort with Midnight Oil (while mourning Oils bandmate Bones Hillman). It follows two other projects released within a month of each other at the start of the year. The fuzzy guitar and percussion, and warbling harp, are sublime, and Dom Turner’s vocals have a touch of the Neil Youngs, an effect amplified by this style of music. No Know-How laments a privileged life, while standout Mass Destruction rattles off a list of such weapons, including disinformation, racism, fear and inaction. Hirst’s drumming really breaks out on tracks such as the instrumental Tombstoning, and they go fully unplugged on You Don’t Love Me.
L.A. Guns, Renegades
(Golden Robot) **1/2
L.A. Guns sprang from the same ’80s hair metal scene as Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue and Poison, and while they didn’t reach the same lofty heights as their contemporaries, they’ve proved at least as durable, albeit now in their second incarnation. And from the sound of this 13th studio release they’ve lost none of that attitude or sensibility. Opener Crawl fittingly slinks along, Well Oiled Machine could be about a girl or a car, while the anthemic Lost Boys is another highlight and Would is the resident acoustic ballad. The penultimate title track is also the album’s peak.