Sound — 9
Taylor Hawkins' side project, The Coattail Riders, released its second album in 2010, but its sound comes from another time in music. Each song has its own style, adding up to an album with tastes of rock from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and the last decade. "Your Shoes" has a strong injection of influence from Queen, the album's single "Way Down" could be an incarnation of Cheap Trick, and "It's Over" opens with a hint of Dead Kennedys noise. While the album has Taylor Hawkins' name on the cover, it plays less like a solo project and more like a band thriving on musicianship. Each member brings something to the table, creating an innovative mix of sounds and influences. The drums are far from conventional, especially considering Hawkins' double-duty of singing and playing. The effects from guitarist Gannin Arnold provide each song with character in its mix of effects and effective riffs. Bassist Chris Chaney adds depth to many of the songs with lines that keep the album grounded in reality while adding a deeper, heavier tone to the album. In fact, his free-flowing work is a subtle highlight to the track "Hole In My Shoe" in the album's second half. However, it's perhaps the guest musicians that make this album special. Hawkins calls on best friend and bandmate Dave Grohl for select backup vocals, and pulls in rock legends Brian May and Roger Taylor, both of Queen, on tracks like "Your Shoes" and "Way Down", arguably the strongest tracks on the album.
Lyrics — 8
Taylor Hawkins is no Robert Plant, but that sure as hell doesn't stop him from channeling the iconic Led Zeppelin vocalist as he steps out of Dave Grohl's shadow in album opener "Not Bad Luck", complete with Queen-esque backing vocals. Hawkins penned Foo Fighters' live-favorite "Cold Day In The Sun" and gave the world a peak into his vocal chops, which come through strongly on "Red Light Fever". He clearly had fun writing and recording the album, and tracks like "Way Down" and "Don't Have To Speak" boast strong lyrics from the frontman. They blend well with the sound to establish a throwback to the days of original-pressed vinyl.
Overall Impression — 8
"Red Light Fever" doesn't disappoint. It may be lost on fans of clean-cut pop-rock and -punk, but fans looking for no BS rock-and-roll with a nostalgic air will be happy to add this to their collection. Perhaps the addition of Queen legends shaped its sound and influence, but that only adds to the brilliance in Hawkins' work on the album in preparation. By the end of the album, I felt like I had gone back a few decades, come through the 80s and 90s, and brought back to modern times to "I Can See It Now", which carries a sound similar to Foo Fighters, a composition in the vein of supergroup Velvet Revolver, and a rhythm section reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age. None of the tracks fall flat, and only leave more to be desired in the best way. This is not an album to be looked over.