Golden AX – Golden AX EP
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: December 20th 2006
After graduating from USC, things started to go downhill for Golden AX frontman Mikey Francis. His band had broken up, he got fired from his job working for a music company and was about ready to pack it up and give up on the music industry altogether until he received a call from former band mate Cecil Adams who said that he and some guys had been jamming and wanted to come to Francis’ house in Las Vegas to record. In two days, the band had recorded 6 instrumental tracks in Francis’ living room. Francis took the tracks and layered vocals, synth and organs over top of them producing a strangely solid and fun EP out of what were originally only supposed to be rough demos. What resulted was a outing just as likely to inspire a dance party as a mosh pit.
One of the biggest compliments I can say about the music is that it is hard to pin down. Just when you think a hardcore breakdown is going to arrive, electronic keys launch in throwing a giant middle finger to conventional hardcore instrumentation. “Attorneys, Physicians & Starving Musicians” is a great example of Golden AX at their best. The music resembles a He Is Legend barnburner, while Francis howls dynamically over the crunchy guitars and even what sounds like a moog keyboard inserted for good measure. Oddly, the flashes of keyboard (and even the telephone call interspersed in the song) do not sound forced and somehow fit the attitude of the song. Other highlights include the very DFA1979 sounding “Vanity Fair and Loathing” and “The Suits”, which contains a bouncy rhythm that would get crowds hopping a show. The intro to “Hard To Get” reminds me a little too much of U2’s “Vertigo”, however it remains my only qualm about the song. The rest of the track makes up for it by being an infectious little dance diddy that fills the soft spot in my heart for handclap-inspiring grimy rock n’ roll. The remix of the track at the end of the album is one of the weaker points of Golden AX, sounding a little slow and out of place when compared to the energetic first songs.
The vocals have that swagger that would fit right into the atmosphere of a local grungy bar, with loud music blaring signaling the start of a long night. Mikey’s intonation and even his pronunciation of certain words draws a strong comparison to Death From Above 1979’s Sebastien Grainger. Enough of his own flair is added to the singing to rise above simple comparison into the realm of a signature style. His slightly off-pitch singing actually suits the dirty rock music while the yelling and falsetto sections are a nice break, adding something new to the mix. Sometimes the vocals are a little awkwardly placed in the mix, with their volume much higher than that of the instruments, but luckily the placement and rhythm of the vocal lines are interesting enough to make up for this small setback. However, in reviewing this album, I took it for what it was, an EP that was recorded in a living room, and a pretty damn good one at that. Some things, mainly the production, might not be perfect, and the vocals may be off pitch at points, but in many cases this only adds to the dirty vibe of the album. The energy is here. The fun is here. If given the proper time in a studio and a label, I could foresee some pretty interesting tracks created by Golden AX in the future. Francis almost came close to quitting the music industry completely, but lucky for us we will get to hear more catchy tunes from Golden AX when the time comes.