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I often wonder how hard it must be for young artists coming up to find a voice in the new corporate world of packaged media and streaming.  The idea of the 70’s and 80’s and garage bands seems such a thing of the past, and much of the fun has been taken out of the industry.  The angst of the 90’s grunge was replaced with the apathy of the 2000’s and whatever happened in the 2010’s… seriously an entire decade went by without creating it’s own vibe.  I mean, really, what was the rock style of the 2010s?   Sadly, we are almost halfway through the 2020’s and the industry is still struggling to figure out what it is, or more importantly what it isn’t.  But there may be some hope.

Blowing out of Rochester, New York comes a breath of fresh air, Wicked.  On the face, this foursome looks like a vintage 80’s band that, when they take the stage with shirtless swagger, could almost be compared to the parody of “Steel Panther”. Brothers Daniel Martin (bass) and Chad Michael (lead vocals), are joined by Scotty B, (lead guitar) and Gunner (drums), and the foursome’s onstage looks like Vince Neil and the band Nelson had quadruplets (and it’s epic). Their flowing platinum blonde hair and shirtless swagger would give Kane Roberts a run for his money.  Lead singer Chad Michael captures a perfect Val Kilmer / Jim Morrison vibe, and works as the perfect front man, but that’s where it gets surprising.  Wicked is a band that feels like it was stuck in a time capsule in 1988 and has come out into this new Millenium ready to party. They are the Encino Man of Hair Bands. It’s that unapologetic vibe that I think hits hardest. They aren’t a tribute band, they are just Wicked.  I liken them a more energetic Greta Van Fleet, and whereas the Kiszka Brothers are surely talented, I would rather join the Wicked brothers on the road as you know it’s going to be crazy.  They would fit in perfectly on Sirus XM: Hair Nation, and get a huge following… if the industry wasn’t so incredibly broken. 

Before delving into their music I checked Wicked out on Social Media and their media game is solid.  Their self produced BTS, “Rock n Roll Circus Show”, showcases the personality of the band and truly gives you that garage band fun vibe.  You can feel the comradery and the energy.      

Their new album Sunburn drops March 1st  on Apple, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal.  The videos for “Sunburn” “Gorgeous” and “Lost in the Dark” have already dropped on YouTube and give a good look at the vibe.  The title track is a perfect introduction to the band.  It has instant hooks and a catchy chorus that you can’t get out  of your head. I would liken it to some early Sum 41 work like “In Too Deep”, with a bit of a heavier guitar riff. The lyrics delve into the hazards of having too much of a good thing, a perfect fit for Wicked.  “Seal It With A Kiss” leans into the traditional Hair Metal vibe with Chad Michael showing his impressive range and a solid rhythm section. Fans of the Canadian band Brighton Rock will feel like it’s a track that dropped right off one of their albums. “Gorgeous” needs to be watched to be appreciated.  This band is so visual and entertaining.  The would have been huge on MTV, and the video’s production value is solid.  They are ticking all the boxes.

“Nightmare” and “Lost in the Dark” are really showpieces for Scott B on guitar, a great mixture of riffs and solos.  “Cali” is a playful piece with solid vocals and great rhythm by Daniel Martin with a heavy driving bass and Gunner’s solid drum work.  The band worked ten time Grammy Winner Nacho Molino to produce the album and it was time well spent.  As you get deeper into the album, tracks like “My Little Rock n Roll” and “Dude” are solid while lacking some of the hooks of the earlier tracks, one of my favorites on the album is “Get Away with Enough”  which has some great time changes and Chad really leaning into his vocal range.  The album finishes up with “Summer and Sun” a light playful tune with some great blues guitar work by Scotty B.  I had hoped for a classic 80’s Ballad but alas it was not to be, maybe on the next album.  A solid effort that really deserves to get some attention. 

Bottom line, Wicked's latest release, Sunburn, is a solid effort that pays homage to the glory days of hair metal while infusing a modern sensibility. With their infectious energy, charismatic stage presence, and undeniable talent, Wicked is poised to make waves in the rock 'n' roll landscape. It's time for the world to take notice of this electrifying quartet and join them on a journey back to the golden age of rock. 

Dave Blass

Photojournalist - Toronto

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