Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders: Red Light Fever

Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders
Red Light Fever
(RCA)

There are very few drummers that can successfully make that short walk from behind the drum riser to the front of the stage. Phil Collins and Don Henley (briefly), regardless of whether or not you care for their music, were able to sell millions when they put the sticks down. And Ringo Starr… well he got a free pass because he was a Beatle. But Dave Grohl is by far the most successful. There are a slew of young Foo Fighter fans who likely have no idea he drummed (and probably carried the equipment, drove the van and got last pick of the groupies) for Nirvana.

It’s no big surprise then that Grohl’s Foo Fighter stickman would take his turn at the mic. On Red Light Fever, Taylor Hawkins’ sophomore release, the drummer turned front man sticks close to his influences: Queen, a little ELO, some Led Zeppelin and the Foo Fighters, naturally.

The record, a big improvement from his debut, starts off strong with the Queen-worthy “Not Bad Luck” – complete with a “Bohemian Rhapsody”-like chorus – and the I-swear-it-could-have-been-a-Foo-Fighters-track “Your Shoes.” With some impressively gnarly guitar solos and Hawkins’ pleasantly raspy vocals, the album has a very laidback sunny California vibe, which is not exactly shocking considering Hawkins is a laidback sunny California guy.

Red Light Fever loses momentum about half way in with some paint-by-number rock ballads (like the unimpressive “Hell to Pay” and the mediocre rocker “Sunshine”), but the early tracks are almost enough to save the record.

Though Red Light Fever is ultimately a mixed bag, in the end Hawkins ends up a little more Dave Grohl than Ringo Starr on the drummers-as-rock-star scale.