Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: September 15th, 2017, via Century Media Records
2017 has proved to be an interesting year for Buckcherry and their lead vocalist, Josh Todd. Todd, along with Buckcherry guitarist Stevie D. has formed his latest hard rock outfit, Joss Todd & The Conflict– along with Everclear drummer Sean Winchester and bassist Greg Cash– while long time guitarist Keith Nelson and drummer Xavier Muriel have departed from Buckcherry. While it is unclear as to how these events are related to another, Josh Todd & The Conflict hit a hard stride with their debut album- produced by Stone Temple Pilots’ drummer Eric Kretz– Year Of The Tiger, a record which shares a level of grit and aggression found in Buckcherry’s earliest work, marking a new era of modern rock for Todd and Stevie.
If the opening track, “Year Of The Tiger” does not get you pumped up, then I don’t know what you were hoping for from Josh Todd & The Conflict. The song is an absolute banger running on a punk ethos and an absolute barrage of power chords, thrashing drums, and Todd’s throaty and screaming promises of setting the world on fire. It’s in the attitude and the lyrics, Josh Todd and co. are here to reject the often soft approach that rock has assumed over the years with a trail blazed in blood, sweat, and the tears of those who oppose them. The record rocks hard in a way that has been absent- or at least, missing from the spotlight- since the 1970’s Los Angeles punk scene with an 80’s flair reminiscent of Guns ‘n’ Roses, as largely heard in the guitar solos. While songs like “Year Of The Tiger”, “Fucked Up” and “Push It” feel as though they’re ready to internally combust at any second, I felt that “Rain” was the strongest track on the album simply for the reason that it takes the band in an unexpected direction that pays off with one of the strongest hard rock tracks of the year. “Rain” is a hard blues number that features a rich lyrical story only enhanced by Todd’s moving vocals; all the while the band continues to progressively get bigger and bigger. It is such a departure from any expectation that makes “Rain” as risky and, in some ways, dangerous as the outlaw Todd takes the role of.
Despite this, there is also a strong pop element found on Year Of The Tiger. Whether it be Todd’s rhythmic and hip-hop inspired vocals on “Fucked Up” or the unplugged and only slightly grungy ballad, “Good Enough”, the record is given a modern twist to its older rock inspirations which clearly separates Year Of The Tiger from Buckcherry’s previous work. Most notably is “Erotic City”, a track originally written by none other than Prince in 1984. This cover is as shocking as it is great as the band gives the synth heavy dance tune a heavy and gritty makeover. The track is at its best towards the end on the vamp and in the final chorus as Todd flexes his vocal range and tonality in a way that we rarely hear from him.
Ultimately, the band’s subtle and tasteful use of pop elements only strengthens the record as a whole and gives Josh Todd & The Conflict a sense of balance as they teeter between unstable punk and big and catchy choruses. After listening to Year Of The Tiger I am left with an urge to see the band bring this raw energy to the stage and am disappointed that their upcoming tour is only across America. That, however does not change the fact that Year Of The Tiger see’s Todd and Stevie take a step closer to their punk roots in a new creative outlet that is easily better than anything Buckcherry has released in the last few years. Year Of The Tiger is raw and abrasive in all the right ways that simultaneously rejects and embraces softer pop elements to make an exciting and hard hitting debut that will remind people as to why Josh Todd is among modern rock’s most prolific frontmen.
1: Year Of The Tiger
3: Fucked Up
5: Good Enough
6: The Conflict
7: Story Of My Life
8: Erotic City
9: Push It
Watch the music video for “Year Of The Tiger”:
Watch the music video for “Rain”:
Watch the music video for “Fucked Up”: