Nostalgic memories last forever and we constantly want to be transported back to the memories and melodies of our youths, to connect those memories with the songs and bands we listen to. UGLY KID JOE, after 7 years, have brought some of that nostalgia back with their new album, “Rad Wings of Destiny.” The band once again worked with producer Mark Dodson, who was already responsible for UGLY KID JOE’s debut album, “America’s Least Wanted,” in 1992. With a refreshed album cover design and a well-produced sound, “Rad Wings of Destiny” was released on October 21st, 2022, via Metalville Records.
Let’s begin with a little introduction, for those who do not know the band. UGLY KID JOE is a Californian hard-rock/metal band that was formed at the beginning of the ’90s. They started as a parody of PRETTY BOY FLOYD and anyone who grew up in the ’90s should have heard their ear-catching single, “Everything About You,” as they managed to create a timeless hymn about hating your significant other. The band had a really strong start and were growing until some unfortunate events took place, where they ended up splitting due to personal reasons. After years apart, they re-united in 2010, and have been producing new material ever since. We even had the opportunity to catch them live at Rockfest 2019.
The album opens strong with a bold rocker, “That Aint Livin.” This track has an old-school AC/DC power rock ‘n’ roll style, which conveys the extremely sobering message that you have one life, so live it. This is a fantastically filthy song that is hard not to love, complete with a pounding tempo and growling vocals. Continuing with the second song, “Not Like the Other,” the band introduces a hint of glam rock and a super-catchy chorus with some fantastic guitar interplay. The catchy, finger-snapping melody makes you feel like part of the gang. It’s definitely a different vibe from the first song, but it gives you an idea of what a versatile album this is.
Speaking of the diversity, with the song “Everything’s Changing,” they create a soundscape that feels perfect for a soundtrack. It’s a beautiful acoustic track with smooth, deep vocals that seduce the ear. Listening to it again and again makes you appreciate every second. The instrumental part of the song is stunning and emotionally charged… really, it is everything it needs to be. “Kill the Pain” is a moving and evocative song, with the band’s signature loud chorus. The song progressively evolves, using the same melody pattern, from a clean sound to a distorted, heavy raw sound, again very stereotypical of the classic UGLY KID JOE style.
This album would not be complete if the band had not done any cover songs, so fortunately they included “Lola,” a good cover of THE KINKS‘ song, though they don’t do anything particularly unique with it. The standout song, “Dead Friends Play,” honors and pays homage to some of the band’s many influences and the most important figures in the rock scene, and could very well be considered the album’s best track. The song includes references to BLACK SABBATH, VAN HALEN, and AC/DC, and while the words aren’t particularly profound, they are true and reflective. It’s also a killer track!
Another standout track on the album is the dark and slightly sleazy “Up In the City,” which features dramatic lyrics over a steady rhythm section and a simple tune. It’s moody and foreboding, a grower that gets better with each listen. “Drinkin’ and Drivin’” includes some country/rock vibes as the vocals have a wonderful twang to them, with strong backup vocals, and it really worms its way into your head and takes root. If you are a die-hard UGLY KID JOE fan, then you will likely enjoy “Failure.” It is the most recognizable song on the album and gives a really nostalgic feel, yet with something new; it feels like a blend of “Everything About You” from “Americas Least Wanted,” mixed with AC/DC‘s riffing style. “Long Road” closes the album with hope and charisma, a song that truly puts you in a great mood as a slower but very melodic song with simple lyrics that will put a big smile on your face.
The production of the album is great, with everything sounding crisp and clear. Every instrument has its own place. Crane‘s vocals were captured as naturally as possible, the soundscape flows smoothly, though main downside is that the drums and bass are played rather simply throughout. Drummer Zac Morris keeps a really good rhythm, but doesn’t really do anything beyond acting as the bare backbone of each song, throwing in a mediocre fill every once in a while. Crane’s vocals are a definite highlight, raspy yet still very melodic. UGLY KID JOE have certainly released an album that is fun to listen to and surely watch as well.
Written by Peter Jerman
- That Ain’t Livin’
- Not Like The Other
- Everything’s Changing
- Kill The Pain
- Dead Friends Play
- Up In The City
- Drinkin’ And Drivin’
- Long Road
Whitfield Crane – Vocals
Cordell Crockett – Bass, Vocals, Background Vocals
Zac Morris – Percussion, Drums
Klaus Eichstadt – Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
Dave Fortman – Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
Shannon Larkin – drums
Sonny Mayo – guitar
Chris Catalyst – guitar