Tesla: Simplicity review

In the 80’s there was a massive ground swell of melodic hard rock bands coming out of LA and the surrounding areas. At that time thrash and what was known as hair metal were the two most dominating genres and forces in music and few bands fell between the cracks and were more mis-labled than Tesla. Tesla incorporated elements of classic rock legends like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Queen, Styx, .38 Special and Kansas to become a sort of modern day Eagles, but somehow still got lumped in with all the so called hair bands, which really did the band a disservice, as they were so much more than just a hair band. With a career that spans a whopping three decades, the band has amassed one of the most enduring legacies in modern music today. It has been almost six years since the band’s last album Forevermore in 2008 and their newest effort Simplicity proves that good things really do come to those who wait. Simplicity is the bands seventh studio album since their stunning debut, Mechanical Resonance in 1986 and was released on the band’s own Tesla Electric Company Records in conjunction with eOne. The album was co-produced by Tom Zutaut on his 15 acre ranch where the band wrote most of the music. From there, they locked themselves up in bassist Brian Wheat’s J Street Studios in Sacramento where they recorded about a song a day, before sending the songs off to Michael Wagner for the final touches. All that care can be felt in every glorious note. It takes mere seconds after hearing the sumptuous melodies of opener “MP3” to feel all that love and be carried away to the band’s glory days of The Great Radio Controversy. At the same time, “Ricochet” is an audibly exciting and enticing jam that follows the template of “Gettin’ Better” from the band’s stellar debut. Tracks like “Rise And Fall” and “Sympathy” are driven by rumbling bass lines, massive hooks and anthemic choruses similar to “Hang Tough” from The Great  Radio Controversy while the hook filled arrangements, blistering back and forth solos and soaring choruses of “So Divine…” and “Timebomb” are instantly infectious and addictive. “Cross My Heart” has an old school, bourbon soaked, honky tonk vibe similar to “Little Suzi” from Mechanical Resonance while the simple yet effective acoustic chords of “Honestly” draw the listener in, forcing them to give into the moment and leaving them helpless to resist. At the same time “Flip Side” is a rollicking rockabilly ride into the swamps where carefree hippies live in a weed induced world of blissfulness and “Other Than Me” sounds like a long lost track that serves as the perfect musical bridge between the Great Radio Controversy and the Psychotic Supper albums. From there, the album throws you a curve ball with the understated and mesmerizing, pseudo acoustic number “Burnout To Fade.” Its soulful vocals and introspective lyrics grab your soul and tugs at the heartstrings. By stark contrast, “Break Of Dawn” is a hard hitting, in your face rocker, that showcases the band’s heavier side and packs one hell of a punch. “Life Is A River” is a poignant power ballad that flashes back to the greatness of The Beatles while closer “Till That Day” is an elegantly executed masterpiece that takes its cues from the band’s monster crossover smash “Love Song” and closes the album in epic fashion. Here’s the bottom line- One listen and you’ll be begging for more and left with one question: Why wasn’t the promotional song “Taste My Pain” included on the album? It doesn’t really matter, though- Jeff Keith, Frank Hannon, Brian Wheat, Troy Luccketta and Dave Rude are stronger than ever and the album is a solid 8.5 out of 10. -Eric Hunker