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HMS Music Spotlight

Back in the early 1990’s when the Grunge Movement was in full swing, there were few new bands not following the crowd. One group in particular was not only keeping heavy rock alive, but also adding groove and humor flavors to their sound. The band is Ugly Kid Joe, and songs like “Everything About You” and “Jesus Rode A Harley” made you chuckle at the tongue-in-check lyrical content. Fast forward to present day and their brand new record Uglier Than They Used Ta Be, sees the kids in ‘Joe‘ continue to use their brand of song writing to their advantage.

With a heavy beat, the songs “Hell Ain’t Hard To Find” and “Let The Record Play” prove that they haven’t lost their metal roots. Those roots go deep with the thick tones of “Bad Seed” with its Black Sabbath sound. The mellower tune “Mirror Of The Man” is reminiscent of the acoustic stuff from Alice in Chains and Days of the New.

“She’s Already Gone” opens with a nice, clean electric strum for a few seconds and then punches you in the gut with the main riff. The mood shifts to ultra-mellow with the constant arpeggio flow of the second acoustic song “Nothing Ever Changes”. “My Old Man” and “Under The Bottom” bring the vibe up to mid-tempo with the slow-hard-slow groove and feel of Soundgarden.

No strangers to making killer covers, the band kicks it into high gear with their version of the powerhouse Motörhead tune, “Ace of Spades” featuring Phil Campbell of Motörhead. This is by far the best version I have heard by any band, they lock into Lemmy’s attitude and vibe. Back to acoustic is “The Enemy” bringing the tempo way down for a minute, but the song ends with heavy distortion and thick gospel rhythm.

Ugly Kid Joe
Uglier Than They Used Ta Be
Written by: Tim Duran
8 out of 10

The record wraps up with another cover song, this time it’s the old Motown sound of Rare Earth’s “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” featuring Dallas Frasca. This song has been done by some top groups back in the day but not with the hard rock flavor that U.K.J. puts into it. They give it a fresh sound and make an old song new again.

The downside is that there are a few songs with a mellow intro leading into the hard rock sound and a couple where the sound got a little muddy. The acoustic songs could have been grouped together to keep that mellow vibe and set up the harsher songs to end the record. Upside is that these guys have gotten tighter over the years; they’re heavier and show their serious side on this album. The tight pocket rhythm section and gritty vocals with killer leads on guitar show that the guys in Ugly Kid Joe are truly Uglier Than They Used Ta Be.

Tim Duran, HMS

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