I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
"99 Crimes" (2019)
Style: Hard Rock
Label: Perris Records
11 Tracks / Run Time: 45:32
Who doesn't love a good hard rockin' power trio? From Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience on down the line to ZZ Top, Motorhead, Rush, Triumph, Raven, King's X, and many more, rock has seen countless three-piece bands come and go through the years, proving that you don't need four, five, six, or nine band members to make some serious racket—just the Power of Three.
The Austin, Texas-based 99 Crimes is a new band carrying on the time honored power-trio tradition, who've just released their self-titled debut album on the retro-rock specialist label Perris Records. 99 Crimes was formed in 2016 by guitarist/lead vocalist Paul Lidel, who may be a familiar name to some thanks to his previous associations with Dirty Looks (their 1988 album Cool From The Wire is still a perennial fave around my house) and Texas sleaze-metallers Dangerous Toys (of "Teas'n, Pleas'n" and "Scared" fame). He also released a pretty cool AC/DC-inspired album with the band Adrenaline Factor via Perris a few years ago. Supported by a super-tight rhythm section consisting of Chris Jordan (drums) and Jeff Lynn (bass/vocals), 99 Crimes' debut is a solid, satisfying slab of no-frills, honest, blue collar rock n' roll that should appeal to fans of classic '70s and '80s hard rock like AC/DC, Cheap Trick, early Aerosmith, etc...These guys didn't come to pose, they came to play!
"Coming Down Like Rain"
99 Crimes kicks off on an impressively heavy note with the lead-off track "Devil In Your Dreams," which wraps itself around a pile driving bass line and features a chorus that will get stuck in your head immediately. I've never heard Paul Lidel sing before, but he's got a decent classic-rock type voice, mostly smooth but tempered with just the right amount of grit when things need to get nasty. "Rumor" is an uptempo melodic rocker that for some reason reminds me of something you might have heard on Dokken's Breaking the Chains debut many years ago. Things heavy up again with "Comin' Down Like Rain," which may be my favorite track on the album thus far, and the punchy, upbeat "Fool." The slow burning "Move Like That" has a nice, mid-paced sleazy feel that would make for a great strip-club anthem (there's a music video idea for you, fellas!). Bassist Jeff Lynn takes over lead vocals on the track "Avenue," which is a slice of pure Cheap Trick style power pop. Lynne's vocals remind me of Rik Emmett from Canada's melodic-rock kings Triumph, for some strange reason, but I might be the only one who hears it.
"Blood From a Stone" is hell raising sleaze rock at its finest, with Lidel putting in his grittiest vocal performance of the album thus far. This track is about as close as 99 Crimes ever gets to being out-and-out "metal." The chunky "Do It Over" has another "stick to you like glue" chorus, and the middling "Nine Pound Hammer" leads into the album closing "Never Say Forever," a badass, riff heavy Dirty Looks style throw down that is guaranteed to get your air-guitar goin' and your finger reaching for the "repeat" button to start the whole album over again.
Summing it up
99 Crimes obviously aren't here to re-write the hard rock history books, but they are doing a damn fine job of keeping the flame alive for old-school, hard-edged melodic rock n' roll. These three guys are seasoned scene veterans with years of experience honing their chops in the hard rock trenches, and this album shows that they're more than ready to come out of the shadows and show the world what they can do. Nice work, fellas!
Judging by the frequent live-show pics that 99 Crimes posts on their Facebook page, it looks like the band gigs out fairly frequently around their Austin-area home base, so if you happen to be in that neck o' the woods, make sure you check out a show and/or pick up their CD. I bet these tunes must sound even better when they're being played live n' loud in a smoky club, right up in your face! If you ever make it to New Jersey, guys, the first beer is on me. Horns up!
© 2019 Keith Abt