Album Reviews

James Leg

Below The Belt

Artist:     James Leg

Album:     Below The Belt

Label:     Alive Naturalsound

Release Date:     09/04/2015

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We often forget that rock ‘n’ roll, in all its brilliant, world-changing glory, is a dirty business. Very few performers today embrace the caustic, base and inherently dirty nature from which classic rock ‘n’ roll rose in both its lyrics and musical motifs. James Leg, however, is making up for it. With his second solo album, Below the Belt (as well as his first, Solitary Pleasure), he howls, spits and growls with abandon, creating the musical equivalent of the last stage of radiation poisoning—there is blood, puss and open sores.

Below the Belt follows pretty closely the pattern set by his first album, but it improves on it in every way possible: stronger songs, better instrumentation, and a truckload more of that defiant, aggressive attitude that’s absolutely essential to true rock ‘n’ roll. “Dirty South” and “Glass Jaw” are overloaded with distorted crackle, and their excess never falters for a second. “Up Above My Head” features a joyful orgasm of sound while “Disappearing” tones down the mood while keeping the intensity at a max. Leg shows his musical pedigree and daring originality as he completely reworks the Cure’s proto-hit “A Forest,” and proves that “sensitive” doesn’t mean “wussy” with closer “What More.”

But the greatest feature of Below the Belt is the overriding spirit of wildness that can’t be tamed and that James Leg exudes with his very breath. Part Howlin’ Wolf, part Iggy Pop, he’s the new standard-bearer for the rebels, the new punk in a land of posers. James Leg is the real deal, and that should scare the crap out of you.

—N. Neal Paradise

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