Pick up the brand-new eponymous release from Mardo and take a look at the back cover of the CD case. You'll see three guys who look like they stepped off That '70s Show: long hair, aviator glasses, fashion choices pushing 30 years old. One of the guys is even wearing a Queen T-shirt, which looks like it might date back to News of the World or maybe A Night at the Opera. This photo perfectly captures what the band is about: loud, thumping, amplifier-rattling, throat-scratching, drive-your-car-really-fast rock and roll. And that, dear readers, is exactly what you'll get with this disc, plain and simple.
The boys of Mardo--two of whom are brothers--wear their musical influences on their sleeves (you'll hear evocations of everyone from T. Rex to Sweet to Golden Earring on this album), and have both the chops and the attitude to carry it off. They open up with a guitar-heavy ode to ending bad relationships, "Anyone But Me," and keep things pounding with the percussive "Here She Comes," letting bass and drums take the lead in the mix. For fans of classic rock as exemplified by J-105 or the Eagle, Mardo will be a welcome addition to playlists.
If there's any misstep on this album, the good news is that it's the one cover. Near the halfway point, Huey Lewis and the News' '80s hit I Want A New Drug" gets the Mardo treatment, and it's like tossing spinach into fruit salad; the texture's all wrong, and the flavor takes a sharp turn south. Muddy and possessing a couple of shrill riffs that sound like the guitar tuner had a head cold, "Drug" is a glaring flaw among the accomplished rockers that make up the rest of the disc. Still, the other 12 cuts make up for it. The disc even closes with a nice power ballad, "I'm The One," that manages to combine sweetness and Tesla-style pathos without getting too soppy, and as a bonus, it even sounds like they borrowed the electric piano used on Motley Crue's original version of "Home Sweet Home." Sweet.