It is now time for our 124th monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and for a second straight month, we're dipping into the archives due to no new paid albums coming out in October to my knowledge. After a three month spell of reviewing solo releases, we have a band's album this time, namely inactive local hard rock band Sailor's Tongue's demo CD "Pierced"! Released in conjunction with their Rotaryfest Second Stage set on July 20th, 2013, this independently-recorded & released album was originally intended as a sampler for their planned full length studio album that never came out, and as such, it intentionally had a limited physical release. In fact, I had planned to review this album on the site when it was new, but drummer Dean McKey asked me to hold off in lieu of the full length CD. Between them falling inactive by 2014 and the 6+ year wait, I think we're in the clear now, though note that songs 2-4 are clearly labelled as demos in the liner notes.
"Pierced" is credited to Sailor's Tongue's late-period quintet lineup, including Dean alongside his brother Kyle McKey on lead vocals and guitar, plus fellow guitarists Liam Seymour & Blake Jackson, and bassist Jeff Brown, though only the McKey brothers factor on every track. We're tying in this review with Liam's solo concert at The Whiskey Barrel last week, for the record. This CD is long since out of print, but all 7 songs can be streamed between Dean's Soundcloud page (the first four songs) and the band's Reverbnation page (the last three), and are linked as such in this review.
"Float"! Apparently recorded solely by the McKeys in 2010, this song has a very catchy groove that plays into their musical strengths, and I like the stop-start riffing in particular! If you're more familiar with Kyle's softer and country work, you may be surprised to hear his strong melodic vocals on heavier music like this, and he has a solid range that he puts to use well on the chorus! The bluesy touches in the song's structure are welcomed also, and it's very easy to see why this song was pegged to open "Pierced". Maybe it could stand to be a little heavier, but it shows what Sailor's Tongue were all about! In an odd mistake, songs #2 and #3 are actually flipped on the disc proper compared to the liner notes, so we'll treat the demo of "Wired For No Sound" as the second track, as that's where it is on the CD.
Opening with more of a southern twang (the "whoa-oh-ohs" don't fit), this song does indeed owe more to Kyle's country background, and it has more of a deliberate pacing while still having a rollicking & fun atmosphere. The choruses really help this song to stick in your head, and the guitar work is up to the task, while the use of a Frampton-esque talk box is a unique addition! I prefer "Float" overall, but if you like southern rock, even if Kyle's voice isn't a perfect match for the song, this one will deliver the goods! The actual track #3 is the demo of "Out of the Woodwork", which is more straight-forward than it's predecessors, and it almost reminds me of The Matthew Good Band at points, if that's fair. Dean's drumming is solid, and this song suits Kyle's voice more than the predecessor, though I don't like the tone on the backing vocals that much. The repetitive ending drags on too long, but the song is hooky and well written, and the guitar work shines as usual!
The third and final song labelled as a demo is next, namely "Shadow", which has a nice funk-inspired guitar riff , and even a little cowbell, but the song isn't as memorable as it's predecessors, almost feeling like the song was stitched together from parts of other songs. I think it's too reliant on the vocal structure, which is well sung as it goes, but I think the song isn't as cohesive and memorable as it could have been. I'd have at least taken things funkier, but it's not a bad song, I'd just have re-arranged it's parts. Fifth on "Pierced" is "Doctor John", which is another southern-influenced song that definitely succeeds across the board, with a fast pace, catchy vocals with an amusing story, and a driving rhythm that accentuates the guitar work, with very solid bass picking as well. I'd say this would be a great blues song if the music behind it wasn't so quickly paced and upbeat, and it's definitely a highlight of mine on this CD!
The penultimate song is one of Sailor's Tongue's signature originals, "BootScattered", which is also the disc's shortest track. After a slow drum intro, the familiar swing-esque guitar riff kicks in, and this is definitely one you can stomp along with (that's a good thing!) The lyrics are as catchy and earwormy as ever, and the guitar and bass compliment each other well, but I think I prefer live versions of this song, where Kyle's singing is a little deeper than on this studio copy. Everything comes together really well on "BootScattered", which has always been one of my favourites from them! "Pierced" closes with it's longest song, "Beauty's Limousine", which is more of a melodic rocker that feature's Kyle's best vocals of the CD, and while it mostly has an upbeat hard rock sound, there is a nice instrumental section where the guys show their stuff well, though the title of the song is repeated far too much, and their catchiest work was in prior songs. Solid closer overall!
So, what are my final thoughts on Sailor's Tongue's CD? This may not have been the intended final product, but it showcases an entertaining and diverse hard rock band with lots of talent and songwriting ability, and there's no shame in this being their only(?) physical album! I assume the plan was to fully re-record these and other non-included originals with the full 2013 quintet lineup, but even the demos don't sound like demos, so don't let that scare you away! It's not overly clear how many of the guys are on most tracks, but the guitar work is great, Kyle's voice is generally a great fit throughout, and Dean's drumming is always on point. Sailor's Tongue could bounce between hard, southern, funk, and alternative rock without breaking a sweat, which isn't easy for every group, and songs like "BootScattered", "Float", and "Doctor John" showcase them at their best. Not every song worked across the board though, with repetition, backing vocals, and the structure of "Shadow" being my biggest points.
In any event, look out in November for our next CD review, and stay tuned for this weekend's concert previews and more news soon! Thanks everyone!