Having been the frontman of US sleaze-rockers BUCKCHERRY for over two decades now, it’s probably fair to say that vocalist Josh Todd knows his way around a hard rock anthem or two. The LA born singer has generally stuck to that formula for much of his career to date – perhaps the only notable exception being last year’s heavily maligned electronic/rap project SPRAYGUN WAR alongside BUCKCHERRY guitarist Stevie D. Now looking to branch out slightly from BUCKCHERRY once more with an eponymous new project, JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT, and armed with a debut album entitled Year of The Tiger, the frontman is very much looking to continue the success of his main band and remind the rock world at large what he’s all about.
From the second you press play on Year of The Tiger, it quickly becomes apparent that this is very much an album created within Todd’s comfort zone. Beginning with its title track, the record opens with a short slinky bass pattern before almost immediately kicking into high gear with Todd’s raspy vocals. It’s a promising start to the whole thing, however the immediate sense that this is more or less just BUCKCHERRY under a different name is difficult to shake. Inside picks up the pace slightly, with cascading drums and a more frantic style of riffing giving a far more punk feeling to affairs, which only breaks for Todd to deliver the track’s choruses in a far more anthemic and soaring style of delivery.
Unfortunately, things immediately grind to a halt as the record reaches its mid-point, with the woefully limp ballad Good Enough. Sounding like country music of the very worst kind, it’s also unfortunately the lengthiest song on the record, and far outstays its welcome, as Todd brays his way through easily the worst song on the album, and one of the weakest things he’s put his name to, perhaps ever.
From that point on, things never fully seem to recover; The Conflict wanders haphazardly into almost rap-rock territory with very little impact, whilst Story Of My Life simply feels a bit plodding, despite the once-again quickened pace. Erotic City meanwhile, has the frontman returning to familiar lyrical territory, and features some of the record’s more promising guitar work, however it still doesn’t quite excite in the same way as some of Todd’s other work in the past did. Penultimate track Push It almost sounds like a sped-up version of Dead Again, from the 1999 self-titled BUCKCHERRY album, in places which actually does it some favours compared to a few moments elsewhere on Year of The Tiger, but again, it’s a rare moment of fun on a distinctly one-note record. The album even ends on a strangely bum-note, as Todd’s rapping once again returns on final track Atomic, and remarkably manages to make KID ROCK sound like EMINEM, such is the weakness in delivery.
In conclusion, the amount of enjoyment you’ll find in Year of The Tiger really depends on your feelings towards both Josh Todd himself and BUCKCHERRY, so intertwined in style are the two. This is not necessarily a horrendous album by any means, and certainly sounds more credible than SPRAYGUN WAR did, however there is an inescapable feeling present throughout Year of The Tiger that all of these tracks are, at most, BUCKCHERRY B-sides. Josh Todd once again proves he has a voice well suited to sleazy hard-rock, however his dire attempt at a ballad was a definite misstep. Whether JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT continues or not, the mere fact this album exists proves Todd is a man at least capable of trying something different, albeit not too different from his day job. An album for the completionists and die-hards only perhaps.
Year of the Tiger is out now via Century Media Records.
Like JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT on Facebook.