Address To The Nation is the new album from former Radio Birdman / Hitmen / Screaming Tribesmen guitar slinger Chris Masuak and his Spanish combo, the Viveiro Wave Riders, and his first since 2016’s excellent Brujita album. For those that didn’t pay attention the first time, top to bottom, Brujita was a comprehensive outing, and one of THE albums of that year. From the sweet pop sensibilities of the title tune ‘Brujita’, to the blitzing hard rock of ‘Thirsty’, or the best song Andy Shernoff never wrote, ‘Another Lost Weekend’ – the entire album was underscored by Masuak’s penchant for melody, his signature guitar licks and appealing vocal delivery. Address To The Nation is even better.
The full frontal action of ‘1776’ (the year the US was established after freedom from Britain), kicks the doors wide open in no uncertain terms. Only seconds in and Masuak’s distinctive guitar assault quickly reminds the listener that the man is back, with a sting in his tail, and a point to prove. The blistering solo reaffirms the point. Killer opener.
The up-tempo punk crunch of ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ follows suit to deliver a quick start one-two punch. ‘FFS’ is next, and its Masuak’s not so subtle, and pointed assessment of his relationship with Radio Birdman. “We’re not going to the Funhouse cos we’re not young / we’re not fun anymore”. Some may see this as vitriolic. Others not. He’s pissed off, and often, there’s no better way to answer ones critics than in song. It’s also a kick-ass tune complete with harmony vocals.
I really dig the ethereal guitar on ‘Trance’, a tune that sees Masuak push the creative boundaries and break expected confines, while musically, ‘Gun Song’ treads more familiar Birdman territory. It’s littered with precision riffs and thematically, is anti-gun, highlighting Masuak’s witty observations. With the continued spate of mass shootings in the world, it certainly resonates.
The reworking of ‘This Bar’ (originally released in 1991 on Hitmen DTK’s Moronic inferno album) broods with intent – and is ideally suited to any Tarantino western, while the ultra-catchy ‘All Around’ also scores big points for its use of melody, hook and harmony vocals. This song grooves with purpose and is the obvious radio hit, if those notions still existed. Great illustration of heavy power pop. Very close to the best tune on the album for mine.
Best tune on the album? Too many cherries to pick just one, though if I’m pressed, that gong goes to the super melodic ‘Naked City’, highlighted by a sing-along chorus, lotsa hooks and a catchy riff. Masuak’s use of melody can’t be understated. The added harmonica further icing on the cake. The characteristic guitar solo sending me back to classic era Hitmen, and reaffirming in the listener Masuak’s position as one of Australia’s finest ever guitar slingers. Love this tune.
In recent years, following his exit from Birdman, Masuak has had to lick his wounds, and in many ways re-invent himself. He is one gritty hombre and all power to him. He has a fire in the belly and a point to prove. Whatever his motivation, he has hit back with one hell of a rock record full of heavy duty guitar tunes, melody galore and hooks aplenty – all pop principled. His guitar playing is razor sharp, the solos in particular, and vocally, he never sounded better, with a strong and clear delivery and the use of harmony vocals on the chorus’ adding extra weight to each tune.
Address To The Nation affirms that Masuak is well and truly back, armed with a swag of great songs and punching hard, reminding all and sundry that he ain’t quite ready to put the cue in the rack just yet. 9 out of 10.
Address To The Nation is released on 15 August 2019 on I-94 Bar Records.