(4 / 5)
French rock band Electric Ducks drop their new studio album, recorded and mixed by Mike Fraser – who has worked with the likes of AC/DC, Bryan Adams, Norah Jones, Airbourne and more – and Eric Mosher – who has AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Justin Bieber on his CV.
It offers up 10 new tracks and three radio edit bonus tracks – so 13 cuts of impressive modern rock songs, powerful vocals and top end musicianship.
Constans Guilhem is the lead singer, Adam Stephane plays rhythm guitar, Yahimi Mouse plays bass, Deroubaix Roch sits at the drums and sings backing vocals, and Gaudry Etienne is in charge of the lead guitar duties.
They don’t go in for fancy, shmancy PR B.S. Their message is simple: “We are the Electric Ducks, and we play Rock Roll”. I can confirm; they are and they most certainly do!
The material is penned by Stephane, Guilhelm and Mouse. The fifth cut, “The Plan” features guest singer Chrystal Leigh. The band has performed more than 700 gigs across Europe, and opened for big names such as Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, and rock Supergroup Chickenfoot at the prestigious and huge Olympia in Paris.
I was going to avoid the duck puns like the plague, but having just read the last line of the press release that came with the promo CD, I feel the urge to borrow their sentence, which at first glance, I thought was a miss spelling….”If you’re looking for a great rock album: look no feather!” Groan….I know, I know…
Noticed for their AC/DC covers, the Ducks decided to pen their own songs and released their debut album in 2008, “Rock Your Fashion”. That “difficult second album” followed, “Back ‘N’ Forth”, a more polished affair, which got the attention of famed French producer Gerard Drouot. Thanks to Gerard’s support, they released and EP, “We Are The Electric Ducks And We Play Rock and Roll”, on Gerard’s own label.
They recorded their third album, “Change Your Mind” at the prestigious Vancouver Warehouse Studio with Fraser and Mosher. Both mega producers have said they feel this is one of the very best records they have ever worked on, and when considering the legendary bands and artists they have collaborated with, that is some comment.
The album opens with “Good Time In The City” – a stripped back vibe and some very nice close harmonies, until the ballsy band kicks in, with a Bad Company and Bon Jovi flavour. Strong vocals from Mr Guilhem, on a hooky commercial song. Nice opener to peak the interest to find out more…You’ll be humming the “Ohh ohh ohh, ohh ohh ohh ohh…” soon after first listen.
“Something In Your Eyes” maintains the quality, and again sounds more like a US band than guys from that there French France. Nice tapestry of woven guitars, and the twin guitar lead break is nicely retro.
Really liked “Odd Hours” and its poppy but solid feel; a kind of Chilli Peppers meets The 1975, and a super vocal. Yet more ear worm chorus. Probably the best bet for a radio hit. “Drag A Confession” slows down the pace with a very nice ballad, lots of space, sat on subtle strings and acoustic guitars. Yet again, no hint at all of a French accent on the vocal.
Singer Chrystal Leigh pops up on “The Plan”, on a duet with Constans. Her voice didn’t blow me away, and perhaps doesn’t have the same level of power as the band’s front man. But it still works OK on this track.
A rambunctious rock track, and if you know the hit from The Kiki Dee Band back in 1974, “I’ve Got The Music In Me”, you could sing that over the top of this and it’d fit. Like other parts of this record, it’s got a Free and Bad Company vibe to it. Which is a good thing!
The first two minutes and 49 seconds of “Safe Plan” didn’t hold my attention and drags on a bit, just piano and voice. The repetition of the lyric, “There’s a safe place on the hill” is irritating. Then the band come in and it gets interesting, but it is over too soon. Could be a cool song if they cut the front, slow bit and extended the full band part.
Nice bluesy rock groove to “Charming Man”, which could be a Thin Lizzy cut from the 1970s. I kept thinking I would like to catch this band live, but anything less than an arena with a great big PA rig and lots of lights and pyrotechnics, would be short changing the class and power of this outfit. I looked for the title track, but there isn’t one.
Apart from the previously mentioned legendary bands that sprang to mind while hearing this lot, Whitesnake were very much at the front of my mind across this album too. One of the main standouts here is rockin’ track nine, “Who Belongs To My World” and is responsible for my back pain when bopping around my office while reviewing this record!
“The Fall” and “Anger” didn’t keep me interested. The three bonus cuts begin with a radio edit of track two, “Something In Your Eyes” and a reminder of how good and radio-ready this cut is. There’s then two more radio edits of two previous cuts, “Odd Hours” and “Safe Place”.
More often than not, I get sent rock and blues albums where the music is great, the material is decent and the singer lets the side down. Same here. Not really….I am joking. This Monsieur really knows how to sing for his supper, and deliver top end rock vocals to match the standard and power of the music.
But he can also pull right back and deliver a softer or more poppy style when required. That’s where they score big with the more commercial pop stuff for radio, and the louder more ballsy stuff for live shows maybe. Most definitely a band I want to keep tabs on and would go see live if the opportunity arises. Très bien. Encore…..
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’