Album Reviews: Sick by Duff McKaganStop trying to decipher the ins and outs of Chinese Democracy. Quell that hankering for a renewed Appetite for Destruction. Check your expectations about what Duff McKagan's Loaded will be like at the door. Longtime Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan stands front and center with Loaded, a project the lanky rock star has been working on for several years. McKagan’s bass is in storage when it comes to Loaded; he’s both vocalist and guitarist on this punk-influenced, dirty rock project who just issued Sick.
As a vocalist, McKagan appears to have learned from example. His adenoidal wail is incredibly similar to that of W. Axl Rose and that shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the fact that the pair made some of the most important, memorable and enduring music of the past three decades together. “Sick” and “Sleaze Factory” blend Los Angeles glitz, Sunset glam and grunge, Seattle-inspired guitars, all of which are kicked up by the punk rock intensity. It would be easy to write Loaded off as a vanity side project from an artist who has been fortunate to be gifted with tremendous, off-the-charts success in his other projects. It would simple to accuse McKagan of self-indulgence and “trying to get back to” the music he evolved away from as his career skyrocketed. But that’s not the case.
Sick isn’t far removed from GN’R’s legacy, but McKagan has packed the album with a snottier, grittier, punk rock aesthetic. Bits of ‘80s hair metal also dot the album’s landscape, most noticeably on “Flatline.” McKagan penned an “aw how sweet” ode to his wife with “IOU,” which proves the record has heart and is more thoughtful than many other rock records in today’s marketplace. “The Slide” is a three-chord all-out punk rock anthem. Clearly, the record experiments with plenty of flavors and seasonings. It’s no Guns N’ Roses, but it’s no throwaway side deal either.
— Amy Sciarretto