Once upon a time, in a land they call the Sunset Strip, hard driving metal bands could rock seemingly clubs with reckless abandon. These were the days when all some kids wanted was a loud, good time. This was also the time before the #metoo movement made the objectification of women the ultimate sin. Then, though, singers strutted and boogied, while the guitarists shredded. Life was all about uncomplicated fun.
Straight Six’s Full Circle, in its own way, brings us back – full circle, if you will -- to those freewheeling, headbanging days. It recalls an era when ‘fits like spandex’ meant more than ‘feels like teen spirit.’ Formed in 2017, this act from Denver, Colorado is a relatively young one. It’s comprised of vocalist Jay Quintana, Glen Drieth on bass, Joey Shapiro playing drums while Eric Schaudies is the band’s lead guitarist.
Although the act gives the impression that they’re all about a good time, all the time, “Cry All Night” also reveals a sensitive side. This song, with its memorable melodic hook on the chorus, also demonstrates how this group is skilled at putting together a rocking pop song. Back during the hair metal era, which is where Straight Six’s heart and soul truly lives, even the hardest rocking groups found extra room for heartfelt power ballads. After all, every rose had to have its thorn. In Straight Six’s case, its ‘pull out all the stops, and wear that heart right out on your sleeve’ moment arrives with “What Would I Give.” This one has all the power and glory of a Bon Jovi special moment. Quintana sings it as though standing face-to-face with his love, while Schaudies provides speedy-noted support.
“Old Back Road” is a bass-thumping shuffle that plays out like a tribute to Van Halen’s first three albums or so. Of course, the SoCal city centered Van Halen wouldn’t have known where to find any old back roads. If it wasn’t a handy freeway offramp, they weren’t likely going that way. Maybe there are more old back roads, perhaps leading to the Rocky Mountains, in Straight Six’s Colorado home.
The closer you listen to this album, the easier it is to pick up on the band’s influences. For instance, “21 Guns” kicks off with a riff that shows familial relations to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” It’s one more instance where this four-piece expresses its love for the groove. Much like their inspirations, Straight Six knows how to make the music feel good. This is music aimed right for the genitalia, which almost completely bypasses the cerebral region. There’s nothing wrong with that. Straight Six is not attempting to change any hearts or minds. It’s only rock & roll, after all, and they like it.
At the time, there was no love lost between punk rockers and metal heads. The punks were more serious, but the metal-ers just wanted to party. Of course, the punks liked to party, too, but first they needed to fight the power, and then drink to that. Those days are long gone, though, and nobody really cares which side rockers fell on. Straight Six takes all that was good about that musical era and puts their own spin on it. Whether you remember the music that inspired Full Circle or not, you’ll likely find much to enjoy about Straight Six’s music.
Dan MacIntosh approved by Anne Hollister