I’ve been seeing Ian Valor’s name all over my social media accounts. It has me intrigued but sadly, due to an overwhelming concert schedule these days, I have yet to catch Ian Valor and the Vendettas live yet so I was super excited when their album ‘All Right All Riot’ hit my stack of albums to review. I pushed play on my stereo with a sense of optimism. I wasn’t sure what I was about to get but was excited for whatever was to come.
The album starts with the title track ‘All Right All Riot’. It instantly caught my attention and I knew within the first couple of seconds of this track that this was going to be so much more than just one of those albums I could passively listen to while doing things around the apartment. The vocals of Ian Valor are dark but the music behind said vocals are not which creates a super cool and unique vibe. This opening tracks really sets the stage for what’s to come. Wailing guitar solos mixed with chugging power chords all accompanied by a driving and powerful sound from the drums. Yeah, this is what I needed on this snowy and cold Saturday morning.
“Hardly Tread Lightly” starts with a very 80’s hair metal vibe with Ian shouting above a groovy guitar lick before moving into his signature style laid out in the title track. The music bridges the gap between bluesy rootsy rock and an almost indie-punk vibe. The fast-paced nature of this song had tit coming to an end before I was truly ready for “Hardly Tread Lightly” to end but no need to fear, “Dancing With A Ghost” picks up right where it should and brings that indie vibe to the forefront. There’s something about this track that makes Ian’s voice feel a little bit more haunting than before. I seriously just could not get enough of it and definitely listened to this track a couple of times before moving onto “Lighter”.
Just as the name suggests, “Lighter” has a bit of a slower and lighter vibe to it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still chugging guitars and a solid drum beat behind Ian’s vocals but something about his voice seems to shift when it comes to this song. I wouldn’t call it bright but I would say it’s brighter than the previous songs and the vibe changes from dark and ominous to bright and as cheerful as I feel like this band can get. From the infectious bass line to the rest of the instrumentation, there’s something very 90’s about this song while still feeling extremely modern and unique.
The fifth track on this album is “Gimme Fever” which takes the 90’s vibe and turns it into a more straight up indie-rock feeling. I feel like if there’s one song that I had to play for someone to really “get” this band (if “getting” this band is even an option), it would be this song. You can hear the old school influences that reign supreme throughout this album along with the modern twist that this trio flawlessly puts into it while surprising you with this rockabilly fueled atmosphere that is just absolutely unforgettable. This entire album is a melting pot of genres but I feel like “Gimme Fever” is truly the pinnacle of that melting pot.
“Cough It Up” is an ear-wormy little number that instantly became a favorite of mine. There’s a strong Rolling Stone, old-school feeling to this track with the way that Ian shouts certain lines over the driving drum beats and solid guitar chords that are a signature to this group. “Cough it Up” has a bit of a sudden ending to it but, like the rest of the album, the next track picks it back up instantaneously. “Fire In The Sun” is one of those songs that puts you in a Cadillac with the top down while driving along the coast in California while pushing the pedal to the metal. I instantly found myself pushing my office chair to the limit as I bobbed up and down to the beat of this song pretending like I was in the California sun rather than the Arctic tundra of Minneapolis.
Even though the album is wrapping up with only four songs left, “Howling The Night Away” proves that the album isn’t slowing down any time soon. Although a bit of a slower paced track, there’s an undeniable sense of energy behind it. Ian’s signature voice reigns supreme as the guitars and drums seem to take the back seat. There’s a new found sense of sensitivity in Ian’s voice that, although you know it’s there the whole time, really seems to take the spotlight in this track. I wouldn’t call this a typical ballad but, for Ian Valor and the Vendettas, this may be as ballad-like as they get and it is honestly perfect.
“If I’m Your Man” instantly shakes you out of the calm mood that “Howling The Night Away” puts you in. You can hear the rockabilly influence loud and clear in the song. The jumpy and consistent bassline is one of those basslines that can get stuck in your head with the first listen and I can already tell I’ll be humming along to it for the rest of the day or at least I thought so until “Slowly Slipping Away” started playing and I instantly found myself swaying along to the slow and steady beat. A love song of a sorts, this is a song that instantly whisks you away from wherever you are and to wherever you want to be. Like a hug, there’s something warm and inviting about this track and after my fifth listen through it, it was clear that this was another favorite of mine from this album.
‘All Right All Riot’ closes with “Amplifier” which is the perfect ending because it makes you want to start this album all over again. It picks the pace back up from “Slowly Slippin Away” without being a complete shock. Although this album has too many influences to list and has dramatic waves of energy and sound throughout, “Amplifier” sums up the journey in the most perfect way while leaving you with this need to go back to experience it all again.
I’ve never really ignored Ian Valor and The Vendettas’ name when I see it on flyers and social media but I’ve also never really taken the time to dig into this group. Now that I have, I know that their concert schedule absolutely deserves not only my attention, but also yours. Check out this great band soon! I promise you won’t regret it!
My Favorite Track(s): “Dancing With A Ghost”; “Cough It Up”; “Slowly Slipping Away”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 5.2 out of 10
For Fans Of: Hair Metal; Rockabilly; Unclassified Music
Daydream-ability: 4.2 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both Cats Chewed At The Fake Christmas Tree I Just Put Up
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.4 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
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