No offense to the Funk Brothers, but trundling out Joan Osborne to wail through “Heatwave” for the Sunday evening panini crowd just doesn’t seem that soulful anymore. Now, don’t go getting shitty about the comparison. No one’s saying Gasoline is on par with history’s masters. But hear this: The Hard Lessons’ debut LP pricks skin like you just bit on a plug. After a brief intro, “Feel Alright” rips a hole in the plaster, its coed vocals, screaming organ and the Anvil’s drums making you feel all funny inside. This is soul by sheer force of will. Ko Ko Louise wags a finger for “Other Girl”; “Well listen up mister,” she begins, and the song’s shimmy leaves room for her brassy tell-offs. As raucous as they love to be (and “Feedback Loop” and “I Can’t Stand It” are certainly that), it’s nice when the Hard Lessons ease back on the half-unplugged “All Over This Town,” and give “How It Is With Me” the right blend of wit and ’60s rock zing. (It puts “Hang on Sloopy” in your head.) Anvil, Ko Ko, Gin – they’re just three kids. But they’ll make your lazy Sunday feel like the heat of Saturday night. Just add Gasoline.
Record release show is Saturday, May 28, at the Magic Bag (22920 Woodward, Ferndale; 248-544-3030), with Nice Device, the Vamps and the Dead Bodies.
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