What is the first thing you think of when you hear of a band named "Foxy Shazam"? It's probably something along the lines of, "Well, it must be comprised of freakin' weirdos." And, well, that is an attribute the bandmembers of Foxy Shazam would likely verify and celebrate.
The band is self-described as sounding like a mixture of "Evel Knievel; Bruce Springsteen; my childhood; Van Morrison; my old friends from high school I don't talk to anymore; Elton John; the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and beyond; Iggy Pop; and my first kiss." A loaded description to live up to, Foxy Shazam dances to the beat of its own drum. It channels the rock and roll of yesteryear and glorifies the simplicity of getting lost in the drama and romance of a song.
The Church of Rock and Roll is Foxy Shazam's fourth studio album, and set to be released on January 24. Throughout the album, Foxy Shazam tries to streamline its songs into the religious theme alluded to in the album name through gospel-like backup singing, religious references, and a projected crucifix on the album cover. Beginning track "Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll" gives an introduction to the intention of this album: to blow your mind. Foxy Shazam effectively promises to redefine music entirely. And honestly, it does just that.
Eric Sean Nally, who, perhaps intentionally, holds an uncanny resemblance to V from V for Vendetta, has perfected vocal wailing. When not pushing the limits of his remarkable vocal range, he sings in a Muppet-esque voice. His voice sits on the fine line between soothing and coercion. It may momentarily make you feel uncomfortable, but you'll love every minute of it.
Fast-paced, conducive to toe-tapping, and complete with body-gyrating piano, "Holy Touch" sounds like it belongs on the Ferris Bueller's Day Off soundtrack. It even has the insistent, honky-tonk piano-pounding that Elton John is known for.
"I Like It" was released as The Church of Rock and Roll's only single back in October 2011. The lyrics include the repetition of "That's the biggest black ass I've ever seen, and I like it." And so the angelic and pious façade slowly erodes... However, "Wasted Feelings" reveals another side to Foxy Shazam. A sentimental, nostalgic, and sensitive Eric Sean Nally sings a please-don't-leave-me sort of love song. "The Streets" is a heavily distorted jam of hometown pride (about Cincinnati?) and is the band's rock version of songs like Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny From The Block." The impressive guitar riffs and memorable chord progressions are indicative of the band's infiltration into true rock and roll with this new album.
There's something both hypocritically and blasphemously charming about a band whose right-hand man chews a lit cigarette on stage (trust me, I've seen it), whose album art features the same bandmember brandishing an almost finished cancer stick and staring into a projected crucifix, and whose mohawked keyboard player quite literally jumps on his musical instrument while playing it. For someone walking through the CD aisles at Target, seeing a faux-freckled, smoking, man with a wig-like haircut staring right at you is attention-grabbing, for sure.
Here, Foxy Shazam has created music that sounds better being blared from an old Chevy than out of MacBook speakers. With the lofty goal of changing the very definition of music, Foxy Shazam brings the definition back to what it once was. As Bowling For Soup once put it, "When did Mötley Crüe become classic rock?" To be honest, there isn't anything truly original with the overall content of The Church of Rock and Roll, but I'll be damned if it isn't refreshing.