Michael Monroe - One Man Gang

Michael Monroe One Man Gang cover
Michael Monroe
One Man Gang
Silver Lining Music
God, I just love how unapologetically rock ‘n roll, Michael Monroe is! The former Hanoi Rocker, who’s been flying solo since the second split of his main band, keep coming around every other year with strong, streetwise punkish rock ‘n roll that just does what it says on the tin, without a care in the world, about what people might or might not say. And it’s an authentic as hell attitude, not some sort of posturing or posing.
The title track that opens, “One Man Gang”, in a little less than two and a half minutes kicks your ass, a hundred ways from here to Timbuktu. Think Gun’s “Garden of Eden”, if it was a Hanoi track and a little bit more rock n roll and you’ll get the idea! Smashing start!
“Last Train to Tokyo” is a cheery punkish rocker that again is reminiscent of latter day Hanoi, which is by no means a bad thing…
“Junk Planet” is more 80s inspired and reminiscent of the side projects of MM. And has a more Clash clashes with LOTNC sort of punkish rock ethos, that’s missed dearly from most of today’s bands.
“Midsummer Nights” is sweet and melodic and allows for a nice breather before the Michael gets back to the business of punk rocking the fuck out of “The Pitfalls of Being an Outsider”, a song, about both feeling like an outsider, but also facing the reality of having to make a living, while everybody is trying to take advantage of you. It just pokes fun at the whole idea of romanticized “scenes”, which in most cases end up being cliques. “I don’t give a fuck if you don’t like me…”; I just think I found my personal national anthem right here.
“Wasted Years” is a retro rocker, which somewhat tries to forego the nihilism of its predecessor, without completely turning it over. It’s mostly a self-reflective look, an introspection, making peace with one’s past and how he used up his time. Don’t do regrets, not worth it, to paraphrase one Lemmy Kilmister. And keep on rocking that harmonica, like a mutha.
“In the Tall Grass” is a melodic bohemian tune, which has a bittersweet melancholy, feeling like the wind blowing through cold lamp lit streets in Hell’sinkin Helsinki.
“Black Ties and Red Tape” spits bile and hits you like a professional boxer or a locomotive that just keeps on going… I smile when I hear that this or that band is punk rock! Then what the fuck is this?! I suppose it’s turbocharged Rock n Roll on so many steroids that it kicks the ass of whoever pretends or just stands in its way… it takes a rather jaunted half nihilistic look at all of society’s bullshit. Think Bob Dynal tripping on glue and acid, while punking the Jams out. Sounds like a mindfunk. Because it is!
“Hollywood Paranoia” slows down a bit, but takes a shot at the whole Hollywood scene and it’s amount of fakery and make belief– a scene mind ya, that Hanoi pretty much helped shape. It sticks out a bitter tongue to all the BS of that “world” that Monroe seems to have outgrown and not really miss too much.
“Heaven is a Free State” is a nice slow burning rocked underlined by mariachi styled ornamentations… scrap that, it’s a bad-ass melodic rocker that doesn’t even ask for your approval. Michael Monroe doesn’t rock, Rock does what Michael Monroe chooses it to, hefe!
“Helsinki Shakedown” is a screaming home-turf bluesy rock tribute, to Monroe and co living it up on the road. Regrets no, memories… sure!
Last but not least, “Low Life, in High Places” is sadder, more introspective tune, pretty dark, but still undeniably part of the whole and not a cover of Thunder’s tune by the same name (now that would have been quite the surprise if it were).
Michael Monroe and his rocking men manage to effortlessly sound cool, while not pretending one friggin bit, what they’re all about. In a world where the rock icons are falling one by one, Monroe is more and more an international treasure that should be treasured and revered in his natural habitat, the road and the stage. Easily his best effort in quite a while. Gawd, I love this shit!