SLEAZY WAY OUT
HERE COMES TROUBLE
Released on February 4, 2020 (Sliptrick Records)
If living in sheltered seclusion in 2020 has done anything for me, it has presented me with more time to not only write and record new music, but reach out and discover new music as well. With an over forty year musical resume that includes journalism, radio/podcast show hosting, running a record store, creating and running a music media / zine / website for nearly three decades, and more I still receive web and snail mail music to check out. Unfortunately unless I stumble on it through websites like Sleaze Roxx or in a live setting, new artists and music tend to zip by me as I shoot through normal everyday life, but like I mentioned, lately life has been anything but normal. So what can a bored boy to do except listen to a rock and roll band? Especially new, hungry ones. And believe me, contrary to what Gene Simmons has said, there’s plenty of ’em rockin’ out there!
Now on a first listen, I wouldn’t say that Here Comes Trouble by Sleazy Way Out is the best thing I’ve heard lately but since stumbling on to Triumph and Prism in the seventies, Canadian rock and roll has consistently held a special place in my rock and roll of hearts. Somehow it connects with me. Maybe the presence of European culture in a country bordering the United States isn’t far removed from an American who grew up abroad. I don’t know, but even before I push the play button, knowing that I’m about to crank some Canadian rock and roll gets my ears aimed forward. OK, so reading a bit about Sleazy Way Out‘s latest release online also did a bit to peak my interest after all, what hard rock fan wouldn’t be interested in a “12 track slab of 100%, whiskey drenched, alcohol fueled, sleaze rock that will make you want to drink whiskey straight from the bottle, ef your girlfriend (plus your friend’s girlfriend) and party all night long!” AND they’re Canadian! Forgive me if I just got a 1985 visual of blasting Santer‘s Guitar Alley record parked by the lake with a six of Old Milwaukee (yeah sorry, I didn’t have access to Labatt Blue back when I was in high school).
As has been my lifelong practice for checking out new music, I tend to take in the visual information before cranking things up. I don’t know, I guess it helps to build up the anticipation which can end up in a incredible high or a very disappointed low but I’m a creature of habit and it only adds to the experience. In the case of Sleazy Way Out‘s Here Comes Trouble, I dig the bright red tinted cover art and cool rock and roll band logo while on the flipside, there’s not too much as far as the titles to pique my curiosity outside of making me wonder if there might be a KISS or Rolling Stones cover to be found. But hey, it’s only rock and roll and there’s really no need to overthink. So still, I’m pretty hyped to hit play.
It only takes a few seconds into opener “Not Gonna Be There” for me to realize that while Sleazy Way Out are more than likely gonna be a band I dig, Here Comes Trouble might not be an album that will blow me away in regards to sonic power. Right off the bat, I’m digging the potential energy and rawness of the tracks but the thin production only leaves me wishing I could catch the band live with a wall of amps aimed at my face. But as a musician who has been trying to put music to tape since the early eighties, I also am aware that even in this technologically advanced age, not everyone has the money and/or means to create a wall of destruction musically so with that now understood, I am left to freely base my opinion on songs and performance. In the future though, I’d like to hear how the band sound with a bit more umph on the drums, the bass pulled up a bit in the mix, and maybe even more guitars. And yeah while the vocals are very early eighties L.A. sounding, I’d probably steer clear of not only advertising that they sound “whiskey drenched”, I’d also not even whisper to anyone the opinion that they “bring to mind Tom Keifer, Blackie Lawless, or Jason McMaster.”
Maybe the band’s sound in some ways does border on early Dangerous Toys but seeing even that is a stretch, I’d stick closer to trying to create a description more based on Sleazy Way Out itself because the potential is certainly there. Any comparisons to those singers though, is not. Now if it sounds like I’m slagging the band up front, I’m not. It’s just for those whose hair rock schooling started a bit later when the massive popularity of the genre made it more possible on average for the bands involved to get better production, I wanted to toss out fair warning. But not to discourage listening, simply to get that out of the way in order for the listener to just crank it up and rock. Now if you came into hard rock and metal earlier in the eighties, when there were tons of great low budget underground releases, then Sleazy Way Out should be right up your alley and your ears less discriminating as far as production quality. If you were a metalhead in the eighties and got caught up in the whole unsigned band tape trading underground world and have longed for those days of raw, nearly live demo sounding cassettes, well, take a seat. This one’s for you.
So back to that first tune “Not Gonna Be There.” Imagine riff-driven hard rock along the lines of Ratt‘s original EP as done by say one of the great lost bands that FnA Records like to dig up demos of to repackage and put out. Cool pounding eighties style start complete with classic breakdown followed by screaming lead and gang style backing vocals on the chorus. Cool stuff as long as you give the vocals a bit of a pass. Yeah, once again a bit of production and direction might of added a dose of clarity and pitch help but again, take it for all it’s energetic, live sounding worth and this and all the tracks to follow are all crank worthy, bang your head, raw rock and roll. Besides, if this is what Stacey Sleaze does sound like live, even in the raw, he’s currently got an edge over Vince Neil vocally.
As if someone magically heard this review while still in the studio, suddenly there’s a bit more bass guitar and fuller drums to start off “Trouble” and aside from a less than punchy snare sounds, a shade more cohesive. Sleaze tries his best to channel early Axl and Bas in manageable fashion but for me, it’s quickly become clear that the brightest spot on Here Comes Trouble is Cleve Hartwick. The guitarist’s riff-driven rhythms are solid and tasty and his lead guitar work precise but pleasantly nasty and dirty with the edge in sound going to the lead tracks. As hard rock is a guitar carried genre this is a crucial thing and in that department, Sleazy Way Out are covered but that certainly doesn’t make for the only bright spot on the band’s most recent release.
“Going Down” blows in (pun intended — hmmm) with the full band, vocals and all, tearing into the songs and aside from a few too many botched “Going Down” screams, is a rocker of a track. “Here Comes The Night” is pure early eighties L.A. influenced metal which, outside of a couple of tunes, is what makes up most of the tracks on Here Comes Trouble. In addition to that one, out of the bunch, “Bitchin Honey”, “Hell Or High Water”, and “Satisfaction” come off the strongest as far as straight up early hair metal. As much as that is cool, it’s the few times that Sleazy Way Out veer in a slightly different direction that most caught my attention.
From the jump through the chorus, “Perfect Crime” is a catchy fist pumping melodic hard rocker with a great pre and solid chant chorus and “Take It Off” finds the band blending that sort of catchiness with their heavier hard rock leanings. To this point (and mind you, we’re nearing the end of the record), the overall best constructed tracks on Here Comes Trouble but the good news is that Sleazy Way Out hit it out of the park on the final third of the songs. Album closer “Waste of Time” is a cool, chunky, punchy blues-based romp filled with choice guitar and the best of Sleaze‘s higher range vocals while “Got Me Running” for me is the best overall song to be found here. Sticking out of the pack with a mix somewhere between Pretty Boy Floyd and the New York Dolls, the more controlled vocal actually comes off more snarky in a punk way. The slightly awkward chorus reminds me a little of something off of Combat Records self-titled Sweet Pain record, an album to this day I still love to drop on my turntable. Maybe that’s why “Got Me Running” is my favorite track on this album. I don’t know, something about its loose, slightly glam punk edge appeals to me.
As a whole, Here Come Trouble is a solid pitch of raw, rock and roll and perfect for fans of loose, fresh, live sounding records with a more “do it yourself” vibe. Yeah, it’s not gonna bowl over fans of overly glossy hair metal and AOR but after listening, something in my gut tells me that Sleazy Way Out would rather it be more down and dirty than clean and glossy. Plain and simple – if you like your rock squeaky clean perfect, listen to some eighties Cheap Trick. But if you like to hear noisy, sweaty, live sounding, imperfect warts and all hard rock, you’ll love this record and despite my opinion that it could have benefited from a few of the tracks being left off, you’ll love all twelve of ’em. Would I still like to hear the guys release something with a fuller mix and more time spent on the vocals? Sure but Sleazy Way Out‘s latest is still a cool enough, raw rock record in its own state and to be honest, I bet if I look hard enough I can still find some early demo and independently released L.A. hair metal tapes that this one blows out of the water. I’m looking forward to seeing (and hearing) what’s next for this band.
01. Not Gonna Be There
03. Goin’ Down
04. Bitchin Honey
05. Raise ‘Em Up
06. Here Comes The Night
07. Hell Or High Water
09. Perfect Crime
10. Take It Off
11. Ya Got Me Runnin
12. Waste of Time
13. One More Time
Stacey Sleaze – lead vocals
Xavier Paradis-Theberge – bass
Cleve Hartwick – guitarist
Joey Boucher – drums
Produced by Tony Colgan, Cleve Hartwick and Stacey Sleaze
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Tony Colgan
Reviewed by John Stoney Cannon for Sleaze Roxx, June 2020
Sleazy Way Out‘s “Waste of Time” song:
Sleazy Way Out‘s “Here Comes The Night” song: