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The Cherry Valence

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Goddamn it! Every time I feel like I've gotten over my addiction to crunked-up, Busch Light-drinking, Merit-smokin', put-your-fist-through-a-plate-glass-window rawk, a band like Raleigh's The Cherry Valence comes along and cracks a cold one under my nose. Riffin', the follow-up to last year's self-titled Estrus Records debut, gives further proof that this band lives up to every bit of hype that has followed them over the past few years like an amorous groupie. Unfortunately for locals, TCV rarely plays at home these days, instead keeping on the move like a pack of possessed serial killers, playing to packed houses coast to coast. But it's that road grime that gives the band's sound its grit, and believe me, this record is tougher than a cowboy's backside. The album, recorded out at San Francisco's Louder Studios (where The Fucking Champs recorded their latest disc) also sounds huge. Lying somewhere between Humble Pie and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the opening track, "Can't Get Enough," could just as easily been released in '77 as today.

Riffin's title track takes the baton and keeps the pace at a considerable tick, segueing nicely into the MC5 love juice homage, "Sweat, Sweat, Sweat (All Over You)." And if you didn't know it was an original, you'd swear the groupie ode "She Hooks Up" was a KISS cover, furthering the band's metal mystique. Essentially, TCV conjures infectious riffs, layers them over ballistic drums and concussive bass, adds a few gallons of perspiration and serves it up boiling hot. A note to would-be pretenders to the throne, culled from the sexy spy track "Undercovers": "You're overdue, yeah for some learnin'/Watch and listen, observe."

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