Review by David Bowling
Mike Estes is a singer/guitarist who has been active on the music scene for several decades but has never found a permanent home. That may have changed with his band Skinny Molly. The band was originally formed for a one-off tour of Europe during 2004, but the group clicked so well that it became a permanent fixture.
Estes prior claim to fame was as a member of the classic southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1993-96. He also toured with the hard rock band Blackfoot for a couple of years. Skinny Molly combines elements of both bands as it produces no-nonsense rock and roll. He is joined by lead guitarist Jay Johnson, drummer Kurt Pietro, and bassist Luke Bradshaw.
After an extensive tour of Europe and hundreds of shows, they have now returned home with their latest release, Haywire Riot. It is a solid album and there are really no low points among the 11 tracks. It may not have the brilliant highs of say the best of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but it has a nice flow as the tracks meld into one another well.
They also avoid the trap of issuing 40 minutes or so of music that all sounds the same. There are the crunching riffs of “If You Don’t Care” and the acoustic grooves of “None of Me No More.” There are the ominous lyrics of “Lie to Me,” the girl hiding the gun in the glove compartment on “Too Bad to Be True,” and the trials of alcohol addiction on “Devil in the Bottle” (a re-working of a song he recorded while a member of Skynyrd).
Another constant is the rich voice of Mike Estes that can groan, soar, and purr as is needed. Johnson proves himself to be a more than a capable guitarist as his riffing ties the parts of many songs together.
Hopefully Skinny Molly will be the permanent home for Mike Estes. Haywire Riot is a mature album of hard rock-meets-southern traditions and is worth a listen.