Album Review: Ugly Kid Joe, ‘Stairway to Hell’

bill bodkin is on the highway to hell …

Stairway-To-Hell-cover

Ugly Kid Joe’s return to the music scene is a bit of a mixed bag.

On one hand, the band known for in-your-face horns-in-the-air anthems like “Hate Everything About You,” fail to impress with their new batch of harder edged track. Yet, when the band strips everything down and goes acoustic, they actually produce some terrific songs.

29867_125664274125131_4585429_n

It’s funny because you wouldn’t think of Ugly Kid Joe as a band that could successfully produce more emotionally charged and melodic unplugged songs, but this is where they shine. Their acoustic cover of the classic anthem “Cats in the Craddle” (which they also had a plugged-in, mainstream hit with) kicks off a well-needed piece of salvation for Stairway to Hell.

Why salvation?

It’s because the harder-edged music on the record is a bit stale. It’s not that it’s bad music, it’s that there’s nothing new here. In fact, it feels like the band is trying to be included on an AC/DC tribute record than creating their own, signature music. And there’s nothing wrong with AC/DC-esque music, but let’s hear what this band has in their arsenal … today.

But that’s when we come back to the acoustic tracks. This is where the now in Ugly Kid Joe is. Whitfield Crane’s voice loses that AC/DC-esque quality and becomes wonderfully harmonic. The whole band comes together in unison and creates something really rhythmic and melodic and really cool. Maybe this is the direction the band should be taking for the foreseeable future.

Ugly Kid Joe’s Stairway to Hell is a decent record to check out. If you were someone who dug the band back in the day — it’s a must-listen. If you never gave the band much attention — head over to their acoustic tracks (they start at Track 7) and give those a shot.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites