Music Review

Book Reviews and Reading Diary
CD Buying Guide and Music Links
Best-of lists
CD Reviews
CDs, sorted by Style
CDs, sorted by year issued
CDs, sorted by publication review ran in
CDs by San Diego bands
All CDs, sorted by band name
All CDs, sorted by album title
Favorite quotations
Contact Me

Return of the guitar hero

The Demos
The Demos
By Yayo

Self-released: 2008

This review first appeared in Turbula in May 2009.

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.