Play Rock N Roll couldn’t be better titled. The Lions Rampant sound is R&R at its most raw and impulsive, but it’s by no means Slop Rock. If you need a genre, this one fits in the “Garage Rock” bin, but the songs are crisply melodic and wildly soulful. The players — singer/guitarist Stuart MacKenzie and bassist Paul Bunyan (also of The Sheds) — and their guests (Amy Jo and Reuben Glaser from Viva La Foxx, among others) dig deep into the dirty, Blues-on-fire groove and inhabit the songs, which are tightly-knitted, belying Garage Rock’s rep for being messy. The Lions write, essentially, Pop songs and drench them in their swampy, moldy aura. MacKenzie’s guitar sound is perfect for the songs; the tone and the vocals recall Mudhoney at the height of their power.
It’s hard to be distinct in a field where everyone sounds like they’re trying to replicate records from 40 years ago. But the Lions’ have an energized yet graceful and more compact vision, and that makes Play Rock N Roll stand out like a flower blossoming from a sidewalk crack. – City Beat