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Halfcocked – The Last Star

Megatronic Records, 2001

Oh the overload.  Unlike other records covers where you can find a moment of blank space to take a visual break if you need it, Halfcocked believes in no breaks.  You WILL experience this band or else, dammit!  This cover is full of rock out looks, action guitar shots, and a shot of someone who might be a crazy purple-haired princess.  The best shot is in the lower right, where the singer gives you a look that either is trying to entice you or frighten you.  Of course, crazy purple-haired princess can’t be bothered and is staring at a peculiar light.  It’s clear from the cover that the band wants to be in your face, so for a quarter (yeah that’s right) I got ready to experience this band or else … dammit.

This is actually the third record from the Boston-based Halfcocked, which surprised me.  Usually this kind of image flaunting is a debut sort of thing to do, but I guess the group wanted its major label debut to stand out amongst all the other flamboyant and artsy covers of its time.  Honestly, they could’ve squashed most of the competition by simply using the inside cover that showed two of the three female band members with their exposed midriffs.  Well hello!  I should’ve been in marketing.

Like the album’s cover, every song has an implied edge to it.  All songs have some sort of guitar solo and none of them ever come off limp and lacking energy.  “I Lied” starts off the album with a pretty good, heavily riffed tune about a backhanded break up.  It is four minutes long and, truthfully, it does get a little tiresome towards the end when the band gets temporarily quiet (oooh).  However, it encapsulates the forceful blow that Halfcocked wish to deliver for the rest of the album.  Since the momentum doesn’t stop for an even quicker “Always” or a flaming “Drive Away”, it is quickly apparent that Halfcocked never plan on taking a break.

As with any rock ‘n roll album that wants to deliver a savage pop in every track, there is the risk of sounding redundant.  If one doesn’t stop to pick apart the instrumental choices made by the band, “Drive Away”, “All By Myself” and “Held Under” could all sound like a big mush of rapid drumming and heavy riffs.  The album does get a little better and more varied later on (see “Thanks for the Ride”) but it is this early period that can make one easily write off the group.  That said, if all one is interested in is straight up attitude rock then hey, one may not care less for all the similarities throughout the record.

The best aspect of Halfcocked, aside from some of the leads that Johnny Rock blares throughout most of the songs, is Sarah “Starr” Reitkopp’s vocals.  I was ready to pile on the laughter before listening to this disc given the ultra-serious looks Starr has emblazoned in every photo included with the album.  However, her voice really carries the sweeping “Over”, which doubles up her voice to give the track a little more power.  Given that most tracks make every effort to get in your face, the slightly slower “Sell Out” showcases how well she can sound in a softer tone.  Say what one will about some of the repetitive compositions of these tracks, but one can’t fault Reitkopp’s vocals too much.

Unfortunately, since the group disbanded soon after this album released there isn’t much to find on the web regarding their music. They do still have a MySpace page up so you can hear a few tunes from this record.

Looking around on Amazon I did notice that this record was appreciated by a few listeners, so it was likely a let down for some that the group called it quits.  Despite the fact that the group never managed to make it big after moving to Los Angeles it is good to know that at least they gave super stardom a shot.  I’m just glad I don’t have to move out to L.A. to become a superstar music blogger, because I am already rolling in the fame.

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