Hot off the Press

De La Cruz | Street Level

by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist —

De La Cruz Street LevelWith their powerful production, huge hooks, kick-ass attitude, air guitar-igniting licks, and bigger-is-better backing vocals, De La Cruz dance so close to delectable awesomeness that you almost want to overlook the one flaw that knocks them down a few pegs. But like a pus-oozing boil on a supermodel’s face, that flaw is just too glaring to be ignored: an over-reliance on repetitious, one-line choruses. And since choruses are arguably the most critical component of ‘80s-style Sunset Strip sleaze metal, by lazily relying on basic refrain structures more often than Lindsay Lohan is late for court, these Aussies flub an opportunity to establish themselves high up in the genre’s pecking order.

That said, while this is not the metallic masterpiece many retro-sleaze mavericks hoped for, it’s still a healthy dose of headbanging, hair-metal fun. Sure, those aforementioned choruses may not pack the knockout anthemic punch one craves when listening to this sort of stuff, but they’re not exactly limper than a straight man staring at naked pictures of Rosie O’Donnell either; they do pack a punch, even if those punches are a bit subdued when compared to bands like Crazy Lixx, Crashdiet, Baby Jane, etc.

There really is a lot to like here. The band expertly captures the sound and style of melodic sleaze rock, all torn denim and black leather and bad boys wearing bandanas while snarling songs about crazy sex and wild girls and having crazy sex with wild girls. It’s Def Leppard and Sleeze Beez and Wildside and Tuff all getting their groove on in a gigantic glam-metal gang-bang that results in a pretty solid sleaze-rock creation. Sure, it could have been better…but it also could have been a lot worse.

For example, even though there are too many choruses begging for more songwriting attention, there are also some choruses that deliver the goods. “Worlds Collide” is not only one of the best tracks on the album, but one of the best songs the sleaze-rock resurgence has served up in quite some time, slamming out a hard and heavy groove with tons of attitude, stacked harmonies, and a killer chorus hook. Equally good is “S.E.X.,” which rollicks along with behemoth backing vocals belting out “S-E-X” with all the naughty tongue-cheeked shenanigans you could ask for. It’s a head-banging, fist-pumping, sing-along sleaze anthem and it’s better than licking vanilla ice cream off Megan Fox’s cleavage. (Well, okay, maybe it’s not quite THAT good, but you get the point.) The sweet-spot production is the cherry on top of this hair-metal concoction; Mutt Lange, Beau Hill, and Chris Laney would be proud…or jealous.

Even though it has its flaws, do not underestimate the ear-snagging power of Street Level. Just because you go on a blind date hoping to meet someone drop-dead gorgeous doesn’t mean the night is a disaster when your date turns out to be merely pretty instead of beautiful. This is a street-savvy, retro-rocking, sleaze-fueled melodic hard rock fest and it doesn’t have to be perfect to entertain.

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock, Sleaze Metal

Roxxi Catalano (lead vocals)
Casey Jones (guitar)
Rory Joy (guitar)
Grant Daniell (bass)
Lacey Lane (drums)

Track Listing
1. Street Level
2. Girls Go Wild
3. Turn It Up
4. Legions of Love
5. Gimme Love
6. Cherry Bomb
7. Dreaming
8. Invincible
9. Worlds Collide
10. S.E.X.
11. Set the Night
12. Shine


Label: Frontiers Records

Hardrock Haven rating: 7.5/10