Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vixen ~ Tangerine


(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock
Label: CMC
Year: 1998
Home: Los Angeles (disbanded)

Members: Janet Gardner ~ vocals/rhythm guitar
Roxy Petrucci ~ clarinet/drums/b. vocals
Gina Stile ~ guitar/b. vocals

Additional: Mike Pisculli ~ bass


When I used to see Lita Ford on MTV I'd watch her slither her way around a guitar wearing skin tight super revealing clothing ... actually, I think we were all watching that. But, I always felt the music didn't match. She was sexy, but just screaming throw away songs, & today seeing her wobbly comeback I still agree. Her music didn't pull you in emotionally to match the physical allure. It shouted at you when it should have been soft. Vixen is the music Ford should have made. Vixen rock ... yet purr. They have heavy riffing guitars (i.e. "Tangerine", "Barely Breathin'", "Never Say Never") but also can pull it all in for something very intimate musically & lyrically (i.e. "Peace", "Bleed", "Stay", "Can't Control Myself", "Shut Up", "Air Balloon"); they get raw & dark (i.e. "Page") but also are always not far from their MTV glossy glam rock roots. Their arrangements are interesting & memorable, while vocalist Janet Gardner reminds me of a rock version of Melissa Ethridge at times via the intimate lyrics (i.e. "Page", "Bleed", "Can't Control Myself"). If hard rock can be sexy & sly, yet still kick ass, or maybe shake ass, Vixen nailed it here. They've not been a favorite with critics, but I'm not going to follow trends, as I've been listening to this album for a few days & continue to enjoy it more & more. Some have called Vixen the 'female Bon Jovi', which is what I was expecting, coming to them for the first time with Tangerine, their third release. I'm like many people, I know who they are but not their music. Maybe it's fact that this is a later recording with two new members, including a guy, but I don't hear the Bon Jovi comparison so much. Yes, there is certainly a commercial feeling to this hard rock versus some over the top metal which I was expecting & that's more akin to Bon Jovi, along with a lot of other bands, but they have a strong personality & are not an imitation. Albeit, also like Bon Jovi, they let the commercial mold work for them, not pull them down or sap their energy & creativity. They've crafted some great songs that are definite wannabe radio singles & shouldn't be criticized for doing that, particularly when the songs have not dumped emotional power for riffage power. Check out opener "Page" and "Peace" for starters, that includes the rock and the calm before the storm, let alone the more glossy title track. Actually, for some softer edged hard rock the whole album will be a pleasure. And, it will only be starters, as I'm ready to go listen to the rest of their catalog to see how it compares, though with Tangerine being the only album of this line-up I'm going back to square one on what I expect. Vixen came together in Los Angeles in 1981, working the scene until signing with EMI in 1987 with their self-titled debut coming out the next year. Sadly, they get caught under the dominating cloud of alt rock & grunge before they ever really had a chance to make up for where their second album lacked. Tangerine came much later & shows some of the newer musical influences, once a ghost at their door but now an asset creating great musical diversity with a new attitude (i.e. "Page", "Never Say Never", "Peace", "Machine", "Air Balloon"). Sadly, they'd split soon after, with a rebooted line-up with original guitarist Jan Kuehnemund created the following decade. This more stable line-up continues to perform periodically. For those that only know Vixen from their earliest albums, give them a second listen. You won't be disappointed. Modern, yet classic. Just the way many of us like our music.



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