CD Review – Tracer 2009 CD “L.A.?”

“L.A.?” is the second EP for Tracer, following on from “Tracer into the Night” (2007), and fans will be pleased to hear that the band has stayed true to its sound and dished up another selection of hard rocking songs.

Tracer is a 3 piece rock band with its roots and influences stretching back to 70’s guitar rock icons, but “L.A.?” definitely has a contemporary sound that will appeal to listeners who enjoy bands such as Grinspoon, Foo Fighters, and Audioslave. This is energetic music that is best appreciated at loud volume with a couple of beers.

Considering the band is a 3 piece the overall sound is full. The guitar overdubs are not overly intricate or excessive, and somehow the songs manage to retain the feel of a 3 piece whilst presenting the fullness of a two-guitar band. The vocals manage to deliver the same effect; harmonies are sparse, but the vocals never sound lonely, although they are often alone.

The songs on this EP are not “catchy” in the commercial sense as they don’t really have a hook or an anthemic chorus. They are infectious though – I found myself looking forward to cranking up “L.A.?” in the car CD player each morning.

The opening track is “End of the Samurai” which sets the tone for the first 6 songs – hard edged guitar rock. When the lead solo kicked in I had to smile – perfect control of a Wah pedal is an ancient art not everyone can master, but Michael Brown has done well here.

“Don’t forget my Name” is next – a catchy tune without a catchy chorus – followed by “Wrecking Ball” which is the song most likely to attract commercial airplay.

“Get Free” is a slow and heavy song that changes pace to something like the hard-rock equivalent of an Irish Jig beat half way through the song (well, not really, but it made me think of Thin Lizzy and they were Irish). The lead solo is short and simple, but like all of Michael’s solo’s it delivers great tone and accomplished vibrato. “All Look the Same” follows, and it’s clear by now that this EP has captured a consistent sound and is very well produced and mixed.

“Such a Waste” is the last of the hard rocking tunes, and the bluesy ballad “Sleep by The Fire” completes the EP. “Sleep by The Fire” is a nice change of pace, both vocally and musically, and it has a real Stevie Ray Vaughan “Dirty Pool” feel to it.

I am really looking forward to the CD launch, because as good as Tracer sounds on this EP, I know that a live performance of these songs at full volume will blow the audience away.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the Brown brothers for having the sense to realise that since God gave them classic rock vocal ability they should form a classic rock band. Michael and Leigh Brown were born to belt this stuff out – long may they continue to do so.