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With the current sanitized state of the world where people can, without fear or shame, sit behind their computer and carry on about anything and everything I am almost obliged to add this as a disclaimer. It is a sad and poor state of affairs, but one we shall get into at another time.

BUT, the main purpose of me bringing that to your attention is there are bound to be at least one or two of said blights on society who will have a whine about the following review of So Hard It Hurts from The Midnight Devils, based solely on the fact that I have been a close ally and friend to the band since acting as their babysitter on their debut tour to Australia last year.

So to those who begin to cry foul and claim of my bias nature, the only thing I can say in advance is you obviously don’t know me because if I think something is shit I will say so. It doesn’t matter if you are friend, foe or family. My honesty has gotten me in endless oceans of trouble and it ain’t about to shy away from the truth just yet!

Now that’s out of the way let’s get to the third studio album from LA glam rock outfit The Midnight Devils. I heard their music for the very first time live on stage and loved it, but (and here’s my first moment of truth) when I listened back to them on CD they mostly didn’t have the same punch to the throat.

That could be down to a number of things such as how can you ever top a live performance of a song, or it could possibly be down to production or things like that I know next to nothing about, but for whatever reason I’m glad I saw the boys live first time round.

Just as I am about to hit play something in the back of my head tells me to look up the track listing on the album and it’s lucky I did because although they might play great music, The Midnight Devils also have a playful nature – i.e they like to fuck with you.The songs as they have sent them to me are jumbled all over the place so had I have written this based on listening in that order our friends from the first paragraph would justifiably be able to have a go at me for something.

After a quick high hat intro from drummer Jimmy Mess the Devils surprise from the outset with a more rockabilly cross-hoedown-type style before frontman Sam Spade slides up to the microphone and fires the opening vocal volley and we are away.

This is a catchy, rollicking number that sees my foot tapping (no headbanging just yet) and my fingers bouncing on the keyboard. The chorus is highlighted by gang vocal style harmonies but this is a cool as fuck number that might even get your Grandmother horny again.

It doesn’t take long for Sniper to make sure we all know he’s there on guitar with an unexpected solo taking the song into a more Poison-era form of rock and from the moment he eases up the complexion of the song alters slightly.

It’s now got a more arena-friendly sing-along vibe about it but once more Sniper snatches back control by turning the track back on its head courtesy of another delicately placed segue from Jimmy that allows the rockabilly nature to return.

Next thing you know Sam will be playing double bass…

Next up is the song on everyone’s lips, Get Laid, which comes in on the back of a slight reverb twang before Sam fires out of the blocks with a confident statement declaring he is “gonna get laid tonight”. Not “might” or “want to” but “gonna”. Let’s see what Kerry has to say about that.

When they finally realize there’s work to be done first, the Devils slip back into cruise mode with what should quickly become some country’s national anthem. This is a typically Devilish party song with a basic but solid structure that apparently is needed for universal appeal.

Sniper obviously isn’t getting laid tonight because he throws in a guitar solo to get the potential victims interested, but with the irrepressive Jimmy Mess kicking back noisily behind the kit reality must settle back in as Sniper quietly retreats back to the status quo.

Shock The World starts with a ripper solo from Sniper who just loves to leave his DNA on everything he touches. The vocals kick in with more urgency on this song and it ups the ante considerably. Shock The World? Fuck that, they just shocked me.

What doesn’t shock me is Sniper saddling up for his third solo of the song but then again I could listen to this guy play all night. Being a massive Eddie Van Halen fan that he is, I will give you one guess what Sniper’s playing style harnesses musically, and if you said John Butler you can go to the back of the class right now.

Early pick for Best On Ground.

Left Leanin’ comes out swinging on the back of Sniper once more as Sam begs us to hear more of our old stories which leaves me wondering if he actually listened to anything I said at all when we first met.

This is staple Devils Diet – and I mean that in the respect of The Midnight Devils definitely have a style and sound of their own. You know, the one where as soon as you hear a song you instantly know who the band is?

And that works for the Devils, mainly because their music is just so much God Damn fun. Enter Sniper once more who plays better than he shoots zombies and I am suddenly snapped back out of whatever tangent I was about to veer off on.

I hope Rage doesn’t make me angry, but from the opening sounds of rock-drenched guitar that is quickly enveloped by a Monsters of Rock style guitar slide my mind is set at ease.

This is a meat-and-potatoes fun rock song that I am pretty sure would already have been added to the Devils setlist. Which is made even more obvious by the gang backups from Jimmy and Sniper saying “we do what we want”. We shall see about that gentlemen. We shall see.

The title track is up next and after Sniper takes the guitar on a quick run the song starts and my mind immediately starts singing Owner Of A Lonely Heart by Yes (don’t you dare judge me), but the Devils must have had the same realisation because the mood of the song changes considerably into what I am guessing is the Devils token ballad of sorts.

Not that it is a ballad, it’s just not as driving as the other tracks which, as far as I am concerned, makes it a ballad. It’s not a bad track that doesn’t really go anywhere for the most part. Instead, it settles into a groove and continues unabated down that path until Sniper does his best mournful solo that once more flicks the ballad switch.

Which takes me back to the good old days with One More Night. This has sleaze and bourbon plastered all over it from the mischievous strains of guitar to the stuttering drums and whisky-drenched vocals (how is that even a thing when said vocalist doesn’t drink?).

This is another anarchic anthem from the Devils that I would bet your house on is already in the setlist. Fuck me, I’m already woah whoing back each time Sam barks the order. And that’s the main strength of The Midnight Devils is that they are having such a great time playing music for you that it would almost be un-Australian to not jump on board.

Not bad for a bunch of Septic Tanks.

There will probably be Hell To Pay when the boys read this, but not before I get through said track which breathes life with a blues swagger that is as cool as fuck. But Sam soon realizes he sounds nothing like Howling Wolf and instead goes back to his snarling rock persona which forces Jimmy and Sniper to follow.

It is an odd number, but I don’t mean that in a bad way.

The track shifts from blues to rock to punk-tinged and back again but the strange thing is each style fits in nicely with its bastard siblings. This track wins the “Most Likely To Get Laid To” category so expect Sniper to push for this one to get into the setlist.

Devils Unstoppable must be a warning from the boys to anyone who dares stand in the way of them and life on the road, and opens up accordingly as if to reinforce the point. It doesn’t take long to hear the word party, and, – this is just a guess because until now this had not even occurred to me – but the word party would have to be the most used turn of English in the Devils repertoire.

Which tells you everything you need to know about the band.

I Don’t Miss That Life offers a thick, chunky guitar intro that retreats continually back into itself as the song progresses. Sam is singing something about being cool and then being uncool while Jimmy seems content in his own colourful world as long as it involves hitting something with sticks.

But if the Devils don’t miss whatever life they have come from I sure as shit don’t want to hang around and potentially be dragged into the argument so onto Adjusting The Tracks I move, with more than a casual thought directed into trying to figure out what the title actually means.

A cavalcade of bass, drums and guitar is there to greet me but not to take me in the direction I expected. This track is lighter, if that makes sense, complete with harmonious vocals and tempered grooves.

Sam seems to be paying more attention to bass than actually singing on this track with a couple of well placed runs that venture just above the surface in the mix. It’s difficult to put a finger on it but this song seems to be from a different era to everything that has preceded it but doesn’t lack any bite because of it.

Hell, there’s even a suggestive round of claps thrown in for good measure – not that I went with them. Since when have I ever done what I’m told?

And then it hits me. This sounds amazingly close to KISS – and despite what you may think I mean that as a compliment – which still doesn’t mean I am going to play along and clap with the outro.

Nice try but Devils.

Sadly we arrive at the end of the album with Too Much, which definitely isn’t the way I am feeling right now.

But, bless their cotton socks, the Devils have saved the best for last as Too Much comes out swinging thanks to a wicked guitar solo from Sniper before Sam resumes control (and he tells us as much) and the Devils deliver on every promise they have ever made to leave you wanting more.

This track is an up-tempo banger that I’m pretty sure would be another new one on the playlist. Sniper repeatedly splashes in and out of solo mode but does so only fleetingly as Sam and Jimmy continue on their merry way with or without him.

This is another track that has the glory days of glam written all over it with a sound that tears strips from bands such as Poison and Motley Crue and mixes them with lashing of Sex Pistols type ambivalence and contempt for expectations.

If you liked The Midnight Devils before listening to So Hard It Hurts, you are going to love them now. It is a fine, meaty slab of rock played by three people who care nothing for the politics of music and play just because they want to and because they love it.

And how could a marriage based on those foundations ever fail?

Pre-orders https://www.mrrecords.com.au/…/so-hard-it-hurts…/MRR176

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