The Real Heroes
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Feb. 27, 2004
The Real HeroesGreetings From Russia You almost have to feel sorry for the Real Heroes. The Austin fivepiece has spent the past three years trying to shake the "joke band" tag hung on them (albeit perhaps unfairly) by 2000's undeniably smirky The Real Heroes. Now, Greetings From Russia comes out at exactly the same time that the hottest thing in rock is the Darkness' mock-ironic, over-the-top pomp-metal. Though both bands drink deep from the wellspring of Seventies AOR, especially Queen, the Darkness is attempting to take over the world via catsuits and Flying V guitars, whereas the Real Heroes just want to slip Bowie's Station to Station on the vintage basement hi-fi and get their freak on. They shouldn't have any problems, because Greetings is one of the sexiest, and most sexual, rock albums since the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Orange. When singer Benjamin Hotchkiss isn't instructing his female listeners to "pleasure yourselves" on the Lou Reed-like "Move That Strut," he's offering his services as an intoxicant on "Me Is the Drug" and crooning, "I love the way you touch me," on "The French Song." His bandmates likewise have their blood up, furthering the Heroes' panty-removal pursuits through eye-batting guitar solos, ribald rhythms, alluring basslines, and steamy cymbal work. Taken together, that amounts to 10 tight, riffy, combustibly catchy rock songs, most at least as radio-ready as "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." And that's no joke.