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CD REVIEW: Altered State - Get Real
By Alex Jasperse - 01/05/2007 - 05:27 PM EST

Artist: Band: Altered State
Album: Get Real [2006]
Label: Luck Media
Genre: Alternative Pop/Rock
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 6.5/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
CD Review:

It’s a bit tempting to peg Saskatchewan punk rockers, Altered State, as another version of Joan Jett or The Pretenders. With their bouncing melodies revved by choppy pop-punk guitar rhythm and their straight-ahead drumbeats and sassy vocal lines, the bells of familiarity begin to ring left and right. But for some reason, their unapologetic, anthemic sound soon begins to appear much more complicated than yet another clone of good times gone by.

Their upcoming 2007 release, Get Real, is a throwback to ‘80s metal with a bit of punk influence and catchy hooks to boot. It packs a power punch in terms of its ability to say ‘f*ck the establishment, it’s all about me, and I get to make all the choices now,’ thanks to its raw, unabashed lyrics.

In some respects, lead singer Lorna Dowell’s powerful vocals, pays a nod to all the female bands who’ve outwardly stood up to everything on both sides of the equator. Their straightforward compositional approach is linked to the tied-and-true rock and roll themes and structures that have seen a revival in the past few years.

The majority of their songs achieve a purity that is surprisingly original, especially considering that their influences shine through brightly. This balancing act between an obviously familiar sound and a spice all their own, is what gives this release its own distinctive and refreshing flavour. However, the compositions are not without flaws, clichés and stale political themes – which become more evident after the first play.

Dowell’s second-wave feminist cries in Only Women Can Bleed, include lines like: Man got his woman to take his seed / He got the power ohhhh she got the need / She spends her life pleasin’ up her man / She feeds him dinner and anything she can. Whether or not she’s living in the same egalitarian Canada as she’s from, seems to be up to much nauseating debate through her one-sided seethe.

Standout tracks like the AC/DC inspired rock anthem Get Real, and the fist-pumping, I Need A Vacation, are driven by a rhythm section as relentless and efficient as an infantry regiment. Their allegiance to the simplistic party rock bands of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, with the snarl of tough girl groups is what makes this album seem so earnestly passionate.

Get Real is a collection of driving, intense songs, mixed with a hint of professionalism to make for a well-packaged equation. Altered State’s tight and focused songwriting prompt an avalanche of great rock era memories, but it might just be one of the best reminders for those who want to hold on to some of the most fascinating pop-rock music days gone by.

The Verdict:

For more information, please visit Altered State’s website at

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