THE COMPANY BAND
"Pros and Cons"

(Weathermaker Music)

01. House of Capricorn
02. Black Light Fever
03. Kill Screen
04. Loc Nar
05. El Dorado

RATING: 8/10

As zany a situation as this sounds, what if Gordon Gekko invested in an underground bar rock band for shits and giggles? He might put them on a side stage at Battery Park where he could watch from his sky view suite in nearby Wall Street. All assuming the cat has a little rock 'n' roll swarming inside his corporate-sold soul.

More than likely, if you know CLUTCH, FIREBALL MINISTRY or CKY, you know about THE COMPANY BAND. Initially a self-parodying, self-contained power firm founded on distorto rawk and Southern boogie, THE COMPANY BAND has proven to be more than just a goof-around side project. For Neil Fallon, Jim Rota, Jess Margera plus their cohorts, guitarist Dave Bone and new addition bassist Brad Davis from FU MANCHU, THE COMPANY BAND has invested some new business models, if you will, into their collaboration.

If you can picture a gaggle of suits nixing their jackets and plugging into some gnarly wattage with zero of the cheese factor, then you get the flavor of THE COMPANY BAND. Already with a self-titled LP and the "Sign Here, Here and Here" EP under their buttoned-down fascia, Fallon and crew throw out a new five-song prospectus, "Pros and Cons".

There's a noticeable difference to this EP versus THE COMPANY BAND's 2009 full-length, and that's a full veer away from the Lynard Skynard rebel yelling that underscored the latter work. "The Company Band" remains a loud and rowdy affair that did and didn't demand one-upping. It was a pleasing street racer of an album which proved Neil Fallon can do no wrong so long as you give him some grits, a groove and just enough amp so as not to drown him out. After all, Fallon has one of the most unique sets of chops in rock 'n roll today.

"Pros and Cons" has you believe out the gate with the sweaty and pumped-up calling card "House of Capricorn" that THE COMPANY BAND intends to continue where they left off with the self-titled album. It's brash, it's exciting and it's a real hoot as Fallon and his co-conspirators create a signature set leader to last them for as long as they want to devote themselves to this group. Go on, let the guys know how they're doing; they all but beg for it in jest.

The remaining four cuts on the EP, however, are newer-styled nuggets which turn Jess Margera loose with differing tempos and a heavier capture in the sound mix, while Jim Rota and Dave Bone peel off rhythmic riff patterns galore. Brad Davis, a fuzz wizard if there ever was one, presents a vibrating undercarriage to keep time for Rota, Bone and Margera as much as he lets himself stray a few notes on his own before coming back to the infrastructure of each tune. All of it seamed together is very clean, though. Much cleaner than the last outing for THE COMPANY BAND. Dirty is more preferential, but this group's professionalism is not to be scoffed at.

This time around, THE COMPANY BAND mingles in some eighties-grounded hard rock and metal along with seventies punk and the slightest shades of glam. "Black Rock Fever" could've been birthed from the same driver's seats that KISS, ALICE COOPER, FOGHAT or THE RUNAWAYS hovered over. "Kill Screen" steps on the back beat with a RAMONES and DICTATORS agro chaw rumbling beneath the near-soaring vocals. The choruses of these tracks are hooky as ever and Neil Fallon becomes as elemental to their hums as their driving chords.

It's hard to avoid thinking of JUDAS PRIEST on the fist-banging mania jacking "Loc Nar" while the closing number, "El Dorado" comes off like a heavier-stepping cousin to AC/DC's "Ride On". The latter track becomes more fascinating in the anon sections where proverbial peyote instead of whiskey serves more as an influence.

Not that THE COMPANY BAND has really been about turning themselves into CLUTCH 2, but Neil Fallon's sunny side-up grizzle is such a trademark anything he puts his voice to is bound to steer the vibe at least a few bars into "Blast Tyrant" territory. Not so much this time around, as the other constituents bring their own practices and theories to the table. You can hear slivers of FIREBALL MINISTRY in "Black Rock Fever" and "Loc Nar" as you can hear bare echoes of CKY in "El Dorado". The space toaster gusts of CLUTCH and FU MANCHU aren't so much present as they're hinted all throughout "Pros and Cons" and that, friends, is a sign of growth. Or for this band's purposes, they're finishing this quarter in the black.

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