Online since August 2002

Return of the guitar hero

Reviewed May 2009

The Demos
The Demos
By Yayo

Self-released: 2008

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its MySpace.com entry.

Does the debut of Austin's Yayo Sanchez mark the return of the real-life guitar hero? Sure, plenty of metal bands of the past 20 years have had flashy lead guitarists – but how many mainstream rock bands have even had an honest-to-god lead guitarist? Yeah, Marcus Curiel of P.O.D. has always taken solos, but he was never the kind of flashy showman that a Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter, Michael Schenker or Eddie Van Halen was. There's a reason the "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" video game franchises have consistenly looked to the past for inspiration and source material.

Sanchez's band, Yayo, is a hard rock band, but accessible with plenty of pop hooks on their four-song EP. It's hard rock the way Van Halen, Judas Priest or AC/DC was in the mid-'80s: Pop music with loud guitars and plenty of solos.

Which isn't to say Yayo doesn't rock out; "Top of the World" is pure old-school heavy blues, while "Rock Steady" comes close to classic-era Black Sabbath in intensity.

But if it's Yayo's catchy melodies that get stuck in your head, it's his guitar solos that make you stop whatever else you might be doing and just listen. He's a decent enough singer, but it's his aggressive, in-your-face solos with their nimble reworkings of the melodic theme that define him as a musician.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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