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Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 8
Lyrics 8
Production 8
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 8
Final Verdict: 80%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8.41
Lyrics 8.09
Production 8.39
Creativity 8.57
Lasting Value 8.32
Reviewer Tilt 8.41
Average: 84%
Inside AP.net

Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll

Reviewed by: Thomas Nassiff (01/22/12)
Foxy ShazamThe Church of Rock and Roll
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Record Label: I.R.S.


The first thing I did when I sat down to write this review, as much of our generation does when they have something they need to accomplish, is log in to Facebook. After checking my notifications and such, I stumbled over to the Foxy Shazam band page, hoping it would get me back on track, and I read the group’s biography as written by its charismatic, polarizing lead singer/frontman Eric Sean Nally. Near the end, it reads: “One of my favorite things to do when listening to my music is to close my eyes and picture a crowd of six million people all chanting ‘Foxy! Foxy! Foxy!’ The lights go out and my band walks on stage. It gives me goose bumps. It all makes sense to me.”

It makes sense to me too, Eric Sean Nally. It especially makes sense to me when I listen to The Church of Rock and Roll, which is just the latest in what is sure to be a long line of brilliant, arena-sized glam-rock-and-roll records from Foxy Shazam. The album, which is Foxy’s first for the newly reinvented I.R.S. Records, doesn’t match the raw energy and spit-shined glitz of its self-titled predecessor, but it’s more than worthy as a follow-up. Foxy Shazam put this band on the map to a certain extent, with one of the singles even getting played during last year’s Super Bowl, but Foxy has yet to break through on a mainstream level in the way it should. This could be the record that provides that breakthrough.

On the opening track, Nally vividly proclaims, “Welcome to the church of rock and roll,” and through the heavy cathedral doors we walk. We enter the church, gape in amazement at the high, stained-glass ceilings and Nally gives us a tour around the place, yelling, “Your music sucks, including us / It's time we clear our name” … “You're all suckers, a flock of sheep / I'll be your shepherd, follow me.” The church is enormous, the pews seemingly stacked on top of each other in a stadium seating format. It’s big enough to fit maybe six million people. We file into the aisles, sit down, fold our hands and prepare to learn Nally’s gospel; right before the last chorus, he makes his way next to the white robe-clad choir and in no less words, they proclaim, “He’s God!” Nally follows, “I’m God. Yeah!”

That lofty introduction promises enough to get anyone’s interest piqued, but what stands out most is that Nally wants to prove to listeners his band is different from the flock. Different enough to stand out; different enough for you to choose to listen to them instead of the other 900 bands in your music library. And different they are, as is evidenced by the first single, “I Like It.” Released back in October, the rhythm is jaunty, leaning heavily on a thick guitar part and Nally’s ever-changing vocal stylings. The gospel choir is present again, but this church holds no reservations – “That’s the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen / And I like it a lot,” goes the chorus. The guitar solo shows off the clout and swagger this band always brings to the table, and it leads into a back-to-back of two of the catchiest tracks on the record.

“Holy Touch” is a wild ride, but “Last Chance At Love” is just one of those songs that is almost illegally catchy. Finally, it becomes obvious that Justin Hawkins, lead singer of The Darkness, produced this record. This song is what we all expected from this album; it hits hard, the guitar licks are fresh, and Nally climbs the rafters in the chorus. It sounds a lot like The Darkness’ hit “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” and while the percussion lends to that comparison a bit, the main parallels come in the vocal treatment. Hawkins does well to not over-produce Nally, and the rest of the instrumental layers fill in nicely. “Last Chance At Love” only falls second on this album to the horn-laden, blisteringly paced “Wasted Feelings.” The choruses are similar in that Nally holds nothing back, but “Wasted Feelings” is the type of track that gets remembered long after a band is relevant. Sure, Foxy Shazam gets compared to Queen every day, but they aren’t carbon copies. Inspirations on this album range from the theatrical antics of Meat Loaf and The Who to the intimate storytellings of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan to the mindless glamor of modern pop music. “Wasted Feelings” puts all of these together, but sounds like a ‘70s rock song written with the intention of being played during prom night in the ‘80s. And it still would feel right on the radio in 2012.

The Church of Rock and Roll differs from the self-titled in its slow songs. For starters, Foxy Shazam never took its foot off the gas pedal. But in “Forever Together” and parts of “The Temple” and “The Streets,” Foxy slows things down to a dangerous extent. “Dangerous” in the sense that, after listening to the upbeat songs, listeners might become disinterested. But these tracks are necessary – “Forever Together” provides an intimate look Nally’s personal life as a husband and father of two. “At the end of the day, it’s not funny / I miss my family,” he sings near the end of the track. “The Streets” reverts to Nally’s childhood, as he has always told stories of growing up in a poor family, one of two white boys in an all-black high school. Unfortunately, while I understand how essential these tracks are, I can’t get fully behind a song like “Forever Together.” It’s the slow songs that, due to mediocre execution, bring The Church of Rock and Roll down ever so slightly, making it just a step behind the self-titled in terms of overall quality.

The closing “Freedom” is built like a classic, anthemic rock-and-roll ballad, and Nally’s vocals adjust to fit it. The track is like the last psalm that plays as the celebration of Sunday Mass ends; the gospel has been preached, Foxy Shazam has left everything they have on the pulpit, and the crowd is ushered out of the Church of Rock and Roll feeling whole and refreshed. As the cathedral doors close behind us, we know it’s only a matter of time before we get to go back inside. Every time we listen to the album, we get to go back inside.

At the end of Foxy Shazam’s biography on Facebook, Nally writes, “Foxy Shazam is not concerned with what category it falls into. We want to stand for our generation. We want to be the biggest band in the world. We are the Michael Jordan of Rock N’ Roll.” Not yet, Eric Sean Nally. But this band, above many others, has the potential to make the jump from club shows supporting Anberlin to headlining large arenas in 2012. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time until many more people become members of the church.

8/10 - Great

Scoring guidelines.

Recommended If You LikeFeeling the rebirth of rock and roll in your bones.
More ThingsListen to the whole record on RollingStone.com
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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 55
09:34 PM on 01/22/12
#2
Ryan Gardner
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One of your best reviews, Thomas.

I've only given this record one spin, but it will deification be getting more plays. Also need to check out their s/t
09:50 PM on 01/22/12
#3
Mattylikesfilms
If You Dig Up The Dead...
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I usually hate the "Their old stuff is better" fans (in general) but that is how I feel about this band. I liked songs from their S/T and this record but Introducing.. is the record I listen to/enjoy the most. I just wish the band had a little more of that sound mixed with their Glam-Rock direction. They are one of the best live acts and I am happy for the band, they are playing music for all the right reasons.
09:52 PM on 01/22/12
#4
cubsml34
A Class 3 KILLSTORM
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Definitely a great review, and I completely agree on how it's a bit disappointing at how much slower the songs are compared to the self-titled. A good record nonetheless, but I miss the pace of the last album, it's just not as dynamic.
09:59 PM on 01/22/12
#5
ibelieveinjake
i have a headache
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Nice work, Thomas. One of those bands that I never expected to like so damn much, can't wait to get my hands on the record.
10:01 PM on 01/22/12
#6
spansen
and then what happens?
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Excellent review.. I, however, love Forever Together's Jekyll/Hyde story-line, that part alone gives me chills. Like you, though, Wasted Feelings is my favorite song on this more-than-great album.
10:06 PM on 01/22/12
#7
Jake Denning
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Great intro, loved that.
10:07 PM on 01/22/12
#8
Andy Young
@YayItsAndy
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I enjoy the older albums more but this is still yet another masterpiece. There aren't many bands out there that can put together albums that are consistently this fun.

Also I encourage everyone to see Foxy live if given the chance. If you already have, then you know. If you haven't prepare to be amazed.
10:11 PM on 01/22/12
#9
ALT/MSC/FAN
Everything's Coming Up Milhouse
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Good to know this album's worth picking up! Can't wait for Tuesday.
10:31 PM on 01/22/12
fuckyourscenes
www.fuckyourscenes.com
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There has never been a more accurate RIYL.
10:56 PM on 01/22/12
DylanPPPP
Noooooooooooch
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I honestly could not agree more with this review. If I were to write a review for this, it would be exactly the same minus the catchy intro, metaphors, quotes from the band and everything else that makes this review awesome.

Love this record a lot, but the slower songs drag a little.
11:01 PM on 01/22/12
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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Excellent review.. I, however, love Forever Together's Jekyll/Hyde story-line, that part alone gives me chills. Like you, though, Wasted Feelings is my favorite song on this more-than-great album.
It's cool but the song as a whole just doesn't really sit well with me.
11:17 PM on 01/22/12
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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I honestly could not agree more with this review. If I were to write a review for this, it would be exactly the same minus the catchy intro, metaphors, quotes from the band and everything else that makes this review awesome.

Love this record a lot, but the slower songs drag a little.
hahahahahahhahaha I like this comment.
11:38 PM on 01/22/12
runningohfive
I know...
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Great album. (It's) Too Late Babe and The Temple are my jams. I will be buying this on tuesday.
11:39 PM on 01/22/12
Chris Fallon
Boom.
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Going to give this band another shot. Never gave them the proper listen after dismissing their debut album. This review made me really excited to hear this record. Personally, I love the influence of all those bands you mentioned and it makes the two songs I've heard off this album loads of fun to blast on full volume.
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