Matt Mays & El Torpedo Matt Mays & El Torpedo

No artist can be blamed for making a record in the spirit of their heroes when the opportunity finally arises. For Halifax singer-songwriter Matt Mays, who cut his teeth with charming country-rockers the Guthries, the time has come for his "big rock statement,” in an attempt to join the ranks of Neil Young and Tom Petty. Mays hinted at such a mission with his great 2003 solo debut, but as he now shares the spotlight with his band, there is little doubt that the intention is to crank things up a notch. In those terms, the album succeeds. El Torpedo is a tight unit, the guitars are crunchy, and Mays’ performance displays the confidence of several years of touring. Where the album doesn’t succeed can squarely be blamed on producer Don Smith, best known for his work with Petty and the Tragically Hip. While it’s obvious that Mays was attracted to Smith’s track record, his dull, ultra-radio-friendly style has not held up over the past 15 years. The result is that throughout the album, El Torpedo comes off as the most blatant of classic rock clichés, which subsequently sucks the life out of some potential CanRock gems like "Stand Down At Sundown,” "Wicked Come Winter,” and first single "Cocaine Cowgirl.” Yes, radio stations will eat it up, but unfortunately that only means that Mays and co. are on the fast track to becoming the next Trooper. A big disappointment. (Sonic)