The Hard Lessons – Gasoline

The Hard LessonsGasoline (No Fun)

It may be a hard lesson to learn, but Detroit garage rock lived and died with the Stooges and the MC5. Today the world beyond Motor City limits can sustain only one Detroit rock revival band at a time. This group must possess something special – a heady blend of charisma, chops, chaos, skill, bravado, noise, hair, insanity, defiance, and genius – in addition to reverence for the spirit of the genre’s architects. (That band might currently be the Dirtbombs.)

The Hard Lessons are most definitely not that band. Their debut full-length, Gasoline, is fuel for the fire into which all wannabe retro Detroit rock-and-rollers should be flung. The awkwardly uneven record progresses from contrived (the infectious yet all-too-obvious opener “Feel Alright”) to sentimental (singer Ko Ko Louise is more than a little bit country in “That Other Girl” [mp3]) to plain irrelevant (“I take milk and sugar in my tea,” pronounces Agostino Visocchi in “Milk and Sugar” [mp3] – now that’s rock and roll).

Only a few of Gasoline‘s 11 songs approach success. Highlights “Share Your Vanity” and “Feedback Loop” draw from the raw, primitive energy that defines Detroit garage rock. If the Hard Lessons could throw ten more songs like these on a record, they just might get somewhere. But if not, forget about it – the rest of their stuff is simply no fun.

11 thoughts on “The Hard Lessons – Gasoline”

  1. It is a somewhat amateur first record and their songwriting is still a little green to be sure…but you have obviously NOT witnessed them live if you don’t think that they are special. I don’t know a soul- young/old music fanatic/casual listener who has witnessed them live and failed to be totally blown away. They are truly exciting and they definitely have a unique look and approach. Auggie just might be both Pete Townsend and Keith Moon trapped in the same body. As for Ko Ko Louise- if calling her “a little bit country” is your only observation…you need to get your ears (and probably your dick) checked. Fantastic voice and a total knockout. The Sights are the only band in Michigan who are more exciting but I’ll put my money on the Hard Lessons. I suspect they will be still be standing long after the Sights and most of the other Detroit garage roster has long since imploded.


  2. haven’t seem them live, but I’ll definitely take the first chance I get after hearing these comments…

    as it stands, their record leaves a lot to be desired. as for koko, i’ll reserve further judgement until I see her in the flesh

  3. My band played a show with them in Toledo at the underground, and while I have not heard the album, their live act is nothing to fuck with. They played with a fever that most bands seem too afraid to try to attain.

  4. I’m going to see them live for the first time tomorrow night, but I dig what I’ve heard so far on the local college radio–from Michigan to Indiana, and even out in Delaware. I think you’re way off, not only in your review of The Hard Lessons, but in the assessment of the Detroit garage scene- heard of bands like Destroy All Monsters, Sonic Rendezvous, and more recently Bantam Rooster, White Stripes and Mule? Time to go get some new “DETROIT Garage” Cds my friend.

  5. hard lessons are boring. there’s nothing more to it. the record is filled with over-wrought rock and roll cliches that fail to inspire. and koko’s vocals are strident and annoying. the drummer’s the best thing they’ve got.

  6. I feel that the Hard Lessons are the best live band I have seen in Detroit, besides the Sights, and you really cannot judge them without seeing them live…I was even rather dissapointed after hearing their CD…they just did not trasfer the same energy on the album. But definitely, see them live if you haven’t…I would bone KoKo in a second…uhh

  7. If you want to find out just how rockin The Hard Lessons are, come to the Baldwin Theater in Royal Oak on April 21 for a concert to benefit the Michigan Association for Children with Emotional Disorders. Call 248-433-2200 for tickets.

  8. The Hard Lessons are potentially the best live act in rock today. They put on an amazing live act with energy, heart and intelligence. Off stage, they are all three very nice, down to earth people, great to talk to. I see The Hard Lessons in concert every single time I have the opportunity, and will continue to do so indefinitely. I wish them the national recognition and success they deserve, although I know that their shows will inevitably lose the intimacy and personal crowd interaction that makes them so unique as they become more recognized. If you ever have a chance to see this band live, do it! You’ll not soon forget the experience.

  9. I am going to have to say that they are goin somewhere. Already touring with big-name bands like Motion City Soundtrack, and a full touring schedule, they seem to be doing fine. Their song list can be erratic, but it’s endearing. “Bamboo” is sure to be a pop hit, if ever the band ventures into that region of music, and “It Bleeds” is sure to strike more than one Emo heart in its lifetime. Ko Ko Louise has an AMAZING voice. A little bit of country? Have you even listened to the band? Better yet, go see them live. Auggie is one of the most personable front-men i’ve ever been privileged enough to see, and it will pay off for them in the end. Good Luck, Hard Lessons

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