Enuff Z’Nuff: ‘Brainwashed Generation’

Released on July 10, 2020 (Frontiers Music Srl)

Chicago power pop rockers Enuff Z’Nuff have returned to form on their 15th studio album, Brainwashed Generation, which continues the momentum the band garnered on 2018’s well-received Diamond Boy.  Formed in 1984, Enuff Z’Nuff achieved overwhelming success with their 1989 critically acclaimed self-titled debut album, which reached No. 67 on the Billboard albums chart and spawned two gigantic hits — “New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle” — receiving massive airplay on the radio and MTV. However, death, cancer, bankruptcy and the grunge rock movement affected Enuff Z’Nuff in the ’90s, yet they still persevered independently.

From the get-go, Enuff Z’Nuff created a unique pop-rock style. Chip Z’Nuff and Donnie Vie’s combined vocal harmonies complimented each other well, while their songwriting union was equally impressive, often referred to as the “Lennon / McCartney” of pop-metal songwriting. However, the band was always unfairly lumped into the “hair metal” genre. Enuff Z’Nuff have endured numerous line-up changes over the years, currently led by sole original member bassist/vocalist Chip Z’Nuff, who is joined by returning guitarist Alex Kane, guitarist Tory Stoffregen and drummer Daniel Benjamin Hill. Brainwashed Generation features the band’s unabashed signature Cheap Trick meets Beatles-esque pop rock tunes. 

After the 39-second, gospel-tinged / piano-led instrumental opener “The Gospel,” first single “Fatal Distraction” kicks off with a nod toward Cheap Trick’s “Clock Strikes Ten,” which incidentally features Cheap Trick’s Daxx Neilsen on drums, decorated with an infectious chorus. Follow up track “I Got My Money Where My Mouth Is” has a huge, hooky chorus with massive vocal harmonies that stays with you long after the track ends. In fact, tracks such as the aforementioned “I Got My Money Where My Mouth Is,” “Help I’m In Hell” and “Drugland Weekend” are saturated with highly memorable choruses. The anthemic “Strangers In My Head” features a guest spot from original Enuff Z’Nuff vocalist Donnie Vie, who is in peak form here with his soaring vocal harmonies, complete with a hooky chorus and underlying haunting organ melodies. The heartfelt “It’s All in Vain,” featuring The Winery Dogs / ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, significantly strikes a chord lyrically with what’s happening in the world today.

With regard to “Drugland Weekend,” if you were wondering what “inaudible lead guitar” from Ace Frehley means on the credits, here’s what Chip told me during a recent phone interview: “I sent him the tracks and one of them was “Drugland Weekend.” I got the email back and I couldn’t hear the guitar. He didn’t have time to go back and fix things up. So, I just put it on the record, track 7, ‘Ace Frehley, inaudible lead guitar,’ because you couldn’t hear it. So, I played the solo on that song. If you listen really close, it sounds like Ace. When people hear it, they say Ace sounds great here… but it’s me.”

Not unlike AC/DC or Motörhead, one always knows what to expect sound wise from Enuff Z’Nuff from album to album. Even with Chip’s switch to lead vocals, starting with their last album (in which he originally received Vie’s blessing), Enuff Z’Nuff have maintained their trademark DNA. Chip & Co. keep the band’s legacy alive on Brainwashed Generation by mining another 14K gold gem in the band’s collection.

Track List:
01. The Gospel
02. Fatal Distraction
03. I Got My Money Where My Mouth Is
04. Help I’m In Hell
05. It’s All In Vain
06. Strangers In My Head
07. Drugland Weekend
08. Broken Love
09. Go…
10. Winding Road

Band Members:
Chip Z’Nuff – lead vocals, bass
Alex Kane – guitars
Tory Stoffregen – guitars
Daniel Benjamin Hill – drums

Additional Musicians:
Daxx Nielsen – drums (2)
Mike Portnoy – drums (5)
Donnie Vie – guest vocals (6)
Ace Frehley – inaudible lead guitar (7)

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Kelley Simms for Sleaze Roxx, July 2020

Enuff Z’Nuff‘s “Broken Love” single:

Enuff Z’Nuff‘s “Fatal Distraction” single: