Light Em Up

Rat Rod

When I got into one of my first real bands, we were basically an AC/DC […]
By Mike "Bitchin" Bourgeois
June 25, 2019
Rat Rod - Light Em Up album cover

When I got into one of my first real bands, we were basically an AC/DC tribute band in all but name. Many people think that the boys from down under are simplistic in their song writing and performance, but nothing could be further from the truth. The most important lesson though I learned from that experience was the secrets to a rock solid rhythm section. Lessons RAT ROD should revisit, especially if they plan on continue playing hard driving rock they recorded for Light Em Up.

Lesson one: Picking downstrokes are not only heavier, but easier to keep a steady beat on both rhythm and bass. From the opening "Lightning Strikes" it was obvious with both bass and rhythm guitar not seeming to mesh completely with the drums and each other. Most wouldn't notice, but unfortunately I can't help it. Sorry. Although this continues throughout the CD (the opening to "Peacemaker" would have had much more impact had Lil John downstroked.) and the overuse of reverb on Elliott Howard's snare, it actually was pretty good. The guitar sound of both Mark McCarthy and Matt Flanigan was spot on for this kind of rock, perfectly overdriven, crisp and clear, and well inserted into the mix.

It's obvious who is their major influence, nothing wrong with that, but I feel they're still trying to find their own voice. "Hell and Back" threw a nice rock-a-billy flavor with the cut time. On "Come with Me" Mike Smith had me seeing Bonn Scott with his vocal styling and almost story telling cadence, and Mike's voice sure  helped, although it does have a unique quality that fits perfectly with the music.

Honesty time. RAT ROD's Light Em Up is pretty good rock n' roll and I can see it being a sound track at a cruise night or just a kick ass gathering around a bonfire with someone's car backed up with the trunk open, but it is fairly derivative and I can think of many other bands who play almost identically the same music. There is a reason though, and that's because when it's done right, it's pretty fuckin' easy to party hard to. Once they find their own voice and tidy up a bit (they're pretty damn close) they could be fan favorites at rallies, festivals or anyplace that just wants to rock hard. The score might be a little low, but the potential is high.

7 / 10









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"Light Em Up" Track-listing:

1. Lightning Strikes
2. American Rock and Roll
3. Light Em Up
4. Memphis Belle
5. Peacemaker (Ballad of Tombstone)
6. Sleep with the Saints
7. Lone Wolf Rider
8. Hell and Back
9. Come with Me
10. Turn the Heat Up
11. My Disease

Rat Rod Lineup:

Mike Smith - Vocals
Mark McCarthy - Guitars
Matt Flanigan - Guitars
Lil John - Bass
Elliott Howard - Drums

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