Being great friends for many, many years it really was a no-brainer for TRIXTER’S Steve Brown and Ted Poley from DANGER DANGER to get together and form a band. The resulting group, TOKYO MOTOR FIST, brought smiles to many a Melodic Rock/AOR fan’s face with their self-titled debut record in 2017. Three years later the boys have returned with sophomore effort Lions, out July 10 on Frontiers Music. Truth be told I liked the first disc, but for some reason I wasn’t as blown away as most people were. But hey, art is subjective, right? Well, I can say that is NOT the case with this new one here because I really love the songs. The hooks are larger than life, Brown’s guitar work is excellent, and Poley reminds us what a spectacular vocalist he is.
That’s not to say the rhythm section is made up of slouches, either. Greg Smith (bass) and Chuck Burgi (drums) boast playing in bands such as TED NUGENT, RAINBOW, ALICE COOPER, and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT as a part of their impressive rock pedigree, and it shows here. As I said before, the catchiness of these tunes is undeniable, starting with opener “Youngblood.” It’s hard not to get hyped when this one comes on. The same can be said for “Around Midnight.” This is textbook 80’s feel-good rock at its finest and I am here for it! “Mean It” also has a nice big hook, and a thick and meaty riff from Brown. Summer driving with the top down? Then this is essential for that playlist!
Switching gears is title track “Lions,” and while it’s a slower song, the message in the lyrics is extremely powerful and important. The keyboards, again from Brown, really accentuate the whole vibe, and make it one of the record’s best cuts. Man, he’s just got such a great ear for what works, not only as a musician, but also in the producer’s chair. He really coaxes the best out of the other guys, as well as himself, which is why I will listen to anything his name is attached to. A dirty, sex-infused feel runs through “Decadence On 10th Street” and it’s like I am fiteen years old in 1988 blasting this one through my rack system. “Monster In Me” features an electrifying guitar solo which should surprise actually no one, amiright??
Another tune that has such an anthemic quality is “Dream Your Heart Out.” This one is calling to the youth everywhere in this world and telling them to go for it and not be afraid to take chances so they can achieve their goals. That statement resonates loud and clear, and I hope our future superstars take it to heart as they go on to do amazing things. “Blow Your Mind” is sad at times before an uplifting chorus comes in and brushes those feelings away. I wasn’t sure where “Sedona” was going at first, but I’m really glad I got to take that journey! A fun, upbeat track that will have heads a-bobbin’, this one. “Look Into Me” has a gorgeous vocal from Poley as well as a killer chorus which is in slight contrast to the softness of the verses.
“Winner Takes All” closes the record and it’s pretty much everything you hoped it would be now that we’ve scaled this rock mountain. The band is locked in, ready to deliver one more time, and it shows. Once again we’ve got a great song with a great hook, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s what we need right now. 2020 has been an awful year so far, but as long as bands like TOKYO MOTOR FIST release albums like this, then the music will surely help us get through all the bad stuff. Lions is a fantastic release, one of the year’s best, and I can’t wait to see what these guys do next. You’re gonna love it, so grab your copy this Friday and blast it loud, whether you’re lounging by the pool, or driving down the highway full throttle!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM