20 November 2019 (released)
09 January 2020
Many people will claim it was rock n roll that brought down the iron curtain. Red country citizens hearing the irresistibly infectious sound of The Beatles, by whatever elicit means they could, were captivated by its freedom, joy and pure abandon. How could a system that could produce something that made us feel so right, be wrong? Fast forward more than half a century later and the gospel of the electric guitar has infiltrated nearly every culture in the world, stretching from its Western world roots around the globe. Practitioners from every corner of the earth are slaying with the best British and American rock heroes.
Lithuanian virtuosic guitarist Robertas Semeniukas has schooled himself with the greats of rock n roll from Satriani, Slash and Van Halen to Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. On his latest record Backstage Stories, he pulls out all the stops nailing both dizzying fretboard acrobatics and wrenching, soulful blues. The album has a majority of instrumental tracks, with the eight songs with vocals performed in Lithuanian.
The opener features Semeniukas laying down some slick pentatonic blues with that Stevie Ray Vaughn-style Fender tone. Guest vocalist Kastetas gives a forceful performance straddling the line between rock and rap. His swaggering solo is enough to make any red-blooded American lift their Bud to salute. A track like 'Killer Boogie from China' delivers exactly what its name implies, a foot thumpin' harmonica honkin', pinch harmonic guitar riot. Semeniukas stretches right out, sounding like he could hop in with ZZ Top any day of the week. Then midway through we are whisked away to an oriental xylophone melody to remind us that we are not in Kansas (or rather Texas) anymore. Showoff track 'Eat My Dust' features himself and Mr. Jumbo going toe to toe trying to outdo each other's shredding prowess.
Backstage Stories transcends the language barrier with ease. Rock n roll is universal. On this record, Semeniukas proves himself to be in league with the best in the field. There is not anything that's making any giant leaps forward but if you're looking for impressive bluesy rock, he delivers.