The one constant we can rely on as a society is that people love “retro” things and bring certain styles back out of dormancy. This is the only way we can explain that over the past decade we have seen the triumphant return of day-glo shirts, trucker hats, and (sigh) mustaches. It seems the nostalgia gods hold a lottery every five years to decide what generational trend will come back.
The Licks are hoping the gods drew the ping pong ball labeled “rock.”
From modest beginnings in a garage in Italy, the Licks refined their stripped down to bare-bone essentials rock ‘n roll sound. They worked out songs and tinkered with them until they felt just right and recorded them on their debut EP Northbound. All five tracks are a style of rock of a bygone era: they include dirty blues riffs, soulful guitar solos, clichés about drinking and women, as well as a strutting and tambourine playing frontman.
Staying true to their influences like the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd, they are cashing in their chips on a retro rock comeback. With the rising star of bands like Rival Sons, the Licks may become the benefactors of a paradigm shift back to straight-up rock. This will not be just a happy coincidence; it will be because the Licks have studied rock and developed a technical sound based around four chords.
Frontman Vincenzo Matassa sings about women, smoking, drinking, douchebags in designer clothes and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle with a voice that blends equal parts Mick Jagger and Nic Cester. Andrea Nocifora brings in crunchy guitar riffs while Gianlorenzo Mungiovino contributes wailing six-string solos. Manuel Bellone and Andrea Requirez do the heavy lifting of keeping solid rhythms with their respective bass and drum playing.
The band’s influences weigh heavily on their music and leave me hoping the Licks can get out of the shroud of the Stones and working on a sound unique to them and not textbook 70s rock. It is one thing to show your influences and quite another to emulate them. If rock ‘n roll is truly making a comeback, then I hope the Licks can truly stand out. As Northbound has shown me, they have the talent and the chance to truly shine.