Hornbuckle’s most recent album Virtue & Vice marks the noteworthy reunion of a pair of performing brothers Brian (bass and vocals) and Michael Hornbuckle (guitar and vocals). Brother Michael elaborates: “Brian and I have recently reunited after - maybe 10 years, and released Virtue & Vice. I came out to L.A. and met Universal Picture songwriter/composer Alex ‘Ace’ Baker who ended up producing, playing piano, and co-writing the album - and maybe some hand claps here and there. The Drummer, Lance Crane, is also an L.A. producer Brian had played with in the past, and once the songs were written everyone came together pretty enthusiastically.”
The new CD contains 16 tracks. This is a healthy dose of the duo’s ditties and certainly goes all out in terms of quantity. The lead-in is “Done Fooling Around”. This one was co-composed with Baker and is a slick pop piece.
The second selection is “Complicated”. This one almost has a reggae rhythm to it and was co-composed by Michael and Baker. It has a retro feel to it too with the familiar pop culture references to things such as “Kick the Can” and the Rubik’s Cube.
The same writing team brings us “’59 Pontiac Hearse”. It is a fun, happy tune with a noteworthy guitar solo and sounds like it would be even more interesting live. The next number is “Slave To The Benjamins” and was written by Brian and Baker. I hear a new wave-tinged single here, boys and girls.
“Blue Note” provides a nice switch. It’s a standalone bluesy ballad. It’s followed by one of Michael’s solo-written songs “Lip”. Your rockin’ reviewer is lost on the meaning of this one though unless it’s all about attitude . . . in which case it’s clear as a bell. It’s also a bit “Donnny and Marie” in that it’s “a little bit country,” it’s “a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.”
“Kathleen” comes next. It works well enough despite the fact that it is another one of those single-girl-name numbers. The brothers put their pens together and cranked out “Ride Away” which is a pure pop rock piece.
“Bird Of A Feather" is yet another song written just by Michael. It has a 1980s retro touch to it. Michael keeps it coming with “One Foot In The Grave.” This one has an apt lighter, softer sound to it.
The next number is “Angels, Addicts, Poets And Thieves.” It’s unclear where we’re going here in terms of inspiration and influence. Is it a bit of Warren Zevon, maybe Bad Company and could there also be a touch of Jimi Hendrix? Well, if it works for the listener it may not matter.
More of Michael’s solo work follows in the form of the slightly Santana reminiscent “Moment In Time” and the simplistic although effective “Remorse.” “Knife In Your Hand” is almost a country rock cut which is quickly followed by “Beautiful Rain” which is a surprisingly fun track that even white guys could dance to . . . probably.
The closing cut is also the titular track. It’s an excellent example of what Brian can do when working with someone like Baker and works so well there is no question as to why it was chosen as both the title tune and the album end-note.
Are you ‘Done Fooling Around” with the overly commercial stuff out there? Then the solution isn’t “Complicated”. Find a “Moment In Time” to check out Hornbuckle’s Virtue & Vice.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.