Main Line Riders are a Texas band lead by guitarist Cliff Powell, who may be know by some as Cliffy Huntington from the 1990's punk rock band The Huntingtons. However, Main Line Riders are not a punk band. Rather Main Line Riders are playing a style like something you might have heard on the Sunset Strip in the mid-1980's. Musically, the band incorporates a lot of influences including AC/DC, Guns 'n' Roses, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, and even a bit of old school 1970's glam like the New York Dolls. This is all delivered with a hunger, energy and a loose, punk-like delivery. Not all here is a throwback to Hollywood and metal yesteryears though. One thing that brings "Shot in the Dark" out of the 80's is the more modern, digital recording. Personally, I'd put Main Line Riders into the same school of modern hard rock bands as Beautiful Creatures, Buck Cherry and even Velvet Revolver. That is not to say that Main Line Riders sound exactly like any of these bands, but they have managed to take a retro sound and make it sound quite contemporary.
Most of the album is built loosely around up-tempo, anthems that will have you singing along within a few listen. The most infectious of the bunch for me was "We Are the Ready Ones" and "Throwin' Bones To The Wolves". Both these tracks have an AC/DC swagger. Tracks like "Ride The Main Line", "One Way Ticket To Love", "Put the Hammer Down" and "Pack Up Your Blues" also have a hard rockin' approach. "Speed Queen" is a bit different in that it is the most punk-like of all the tracks here. I'd even venture to say this song has a bit of a Motorhead influence to it. Many of these songs feature guitar solos that remind me of something you might expect from Slash. The vocals of Mike Mayhem work well with the band. He reminds me slightly of Philip Lewis from L.A. Guns from time to time. He lacks the raw, gritty feel of an Axl Rose, Taime Downe, or Bon Scott but he has enough sass and attitude to make it work. The lone ballad "Her I Am" also has that Sunset Strip/LA Guns vibe to it. This song starts off as an acoustic guitar driven song before bursting into a full blown power ballad that features a duet between Mike Mayhem and female vocalist Kristi Lynn Walker. The final track "Shot in the Dark", which is not listed on the track listing, is a Junkyard cover and is obviously the track for which the CD was titled. This track is quite good and peaked my interest in Junkyard.
Main Line Riders' "Shot in the Dark" may not break down any doors for innovation, but it will appeal to those who remember when hard rock and metal were as much about having fun and singing along to a catchy chorus, as it was about musicianship.
Main Line Riders return with their second full length recording since their debut in 2007. This time around the band returns with a new attitude, a new vocalist and a new sound. With the opening notes of "It all Ends Tonight" I thought to myself that Bon Scott surely must have been resurrected and is now singing for Cliffy and his Main Line Riders. Indeed, "Worldshaker" is an album that is heavily influenced by Bon-era AC/DC. The first three cuts, along with "Rhythm-N-Blues" could easily have been some lost AC/DC tracks. Some may frown upon this approach, as something uncreative. I disagree and quite enjoy this album. If a thrash band plays thrash metal, no one points a finger and states that the band is uncreative because they are playing a style of metal that has been around for decades. Likewise, the AC/DC inspired sound has been around for decades as well. Bands like Airbourne, Rhino Bucket and Broken Teeth, among others, have lingered in this sound with varying degrees of success. Bands like Krokus, Dirty Looks, Twisted Sister and even Def Leppard have taken heavy inspiration from Angus and Company. Guitarist and chief songwriter, Cliffy has stated in an interview that this approach was indeed intentional. Cliffy stated. "If Bon Scott rose from the dead, got saved and joined our band, what would the lyrics and melodies he'd write for us be?" With that in mind, Cliffy achieved exactly what he was trying to do.
This is not to say that the entire album sounds like AC/DC. Several songs take a different approach. The ballad "Comin' Home" has a sleaze metal vibe not unlike something you would expect from Faster Pussycat or early Britny Fox. "Chrome & Steel" also veers from the AC/DC sound with a more modern groove. Two songs from the debut are re-recorded and included here as well. The first "Throwin' Bones to the Wolves" I didn't even recognize right away as it falls into that same AC/DC groove as the opening track. The other "We Are the Ready Ones" I recognized right away. This is a very catchy song and one that I think could have some radio potential with the right push. "Worldshaker" will appeal to those who enjoy solid, AC/DC inspired hard rock with a positive lyrical approach.