My Wicked Twin

REVIEW: My Wicked Twin – 3 Engines (2020)

MY WICKED TWIN – 3 Engines (2020)

Like a bolt out of the blue, My Wicked Twin (Brent & Brian Doerner) have a new album out, their fourth, called 3 Engines.  A tight set with 10 songs in the 3-4 minute range, 3 Engines rocks.  Let’s have a listen.

“Gone Nomad”, the heavier than hell opener, is a tricky number that recalls Max Webster, but amped up.  “I’ve got a gun if we disagree,” sings Brent in an electronically treated voice, appropriate to the tune.  By the second track, “Light From Within”, we are in more traditional hard rock territory…until the corner bar piano kicks in!  Clearly nobody was afraid of taking chances.  The dark guitar hook is terrific on this one, as is the melodic bass.  Melody is also the focus of “Things I Wanna Do” a quirky modern sounding track with programmed beats and patches of keyboard.  Dig the engines revving!  “Give and Take” sounds like a natural followup, and it’s interesting to hear so much focus on the vocal melodies this time out.  Clearly a lot of effort went into them.

“Escaping California” has a dreamy quality, with spare use of keyboards that set the scene.  But it’s the following song, “House on the Highway”, that is the most fun.  Who doesn’t love a little banjo?  It adds variety and a little down-home quality and there’s nothing wrong with that.  “House on the Highway” for the win.

For heavy, you want “Digital Veins”.  The guitars and keys complement each other nicely.  “Rock and roll is what I am used to,” sings Brent, but he’s also not afraid to stretch out within those confines.  There’s a cool 80s vibe to “Digital Veins”.  Then “Half Broken” has an interesting rhythm to accompany the cool keys and guitars.  Killer solo here.  “Running Out of Time” has an accelerated pace but also some seriously tasty twang.  The album ends with “Brain Dance”, a cool party tune with a serious thump.  Wicked guitars, with varied tones and licks.

3 Engines is different, and that’s good.  The keyboards add an atmospheric tone, and it’s not dissimilar to old Max Webster.  The electronic treatment on the drums and vocals works, and complement the music.  My Wicked Twin have taken some leaps and bounds on this album, and ended up with some accomplished tunes.  Not for headbangin’.  3 Engines rocks, but it rocks smart.

4/5 stars

Additional musicians:

Paul Chapman – guitar solo on “Running Out of Time”
Jim Mclean – guitar and co-writer on “Light”
Rob Kemp – guitar on “Light”
Graham Smith – bass on “House” and “Light”

REVIEW: My Wicked Twin – Decibel Music (2008)

MY WICKED TWIN – Decibel Music (2008 MWT)

Helix fans take note, since My Wicked Twin was 3/4 composed of former members of that band.  Brent Doerner and his twin brother Brian first joined Helix in 1975-76, and both were members of that band more than once.  Brent in particular clocked in a couple decades total in Helix.   Brian spent a few years touring and recorded with Saga as well.  Joining them on bass is Mike Uzelac aka “Uzi”, who played and wrote on their Capitol Records debut No Rest for the Wicked (1983).  None of these guys seemed to have lost anything with the years.

SHANEMy Wicked Twin evolved from Brent’s first solo outfit, Brent Doerner’s Decibel who released an excellent CD in 2006.  From that earlier incarnation comes guitarist/vocalist Shane Schedler, a talented Kitchener-area musician whom I first met back in the 90’s at the old Record Store.  Needless to say I’m a little biased when it comes to reviewing these guys.  Being objective is the goal, so let’s get on with it!

On first listen it’s clear that Brent has raised the bar. This time there’s more music (12 songs), and it’s noticeably heavier.  At the same time it’s also more diverse, and the production is improved.

I need to single out “Maybe Love” as a particularly outstanding track. When I saw them debut it live in ’07 it was obvious what a great song it was going to be. Its evolved into a superior hard rock song with a melodic vocal and a thoughtful lyric.  There are top-tier rock bands who don’t put out material as good as “Maybe Love” on their albums.  This is a song to be proud of, absolutely.  Brent made a pretty cool video for the song too.

Most of the rest of the album is more raw, and more rock. “All The Action”, with its adventurous melodies, is a highlight. “One Big Bad Whoopie” is a lyric in which Brent shows his sly humour, something that comes frequently on this album. “Decibel City Hall” and “Get Your Game On” are fast boogie rockers a-la-Van-Halen-with-Roth. If you’re a hockey fan, you may have heard “Get Your Game On” before the album came out, as the band submitted it to the CBC for their “Write the new Hockey Night In Canada theme song” contest.  (I prefer it to the selection they finally picked, but hey, it may be a tad too rock n’ roll for Hockey Night In Canada.)

Other standouts include “The Sting I Need” and “Love is What I Lean On”. “Alone Again, Face to Face” is a nocturnal, sneering rocker.  “That Kind of a Love” is a guitar haven within a stunning power ballad.  I tend to use the word “epic” a lot, but it does apply here, especially in the middle when it goes all Zeppelin. As one would expect with musicians of this caliber, the playing is more than competent. Brent and Shane weave cool lick after cool lick, while Brian and Mike groove with nuance. While everything is solidly rock n’ roll, the rhythms are not simplistic, and paying attention to the drums will produce many smiles.

Pick up My Wicked Twin’s Decibel Music, if you’re a fan of rock “the way they used to make it”.  But give it time to grow on you.  Some songs have a lot going on, and not many are instant.  Play it a few times.  You’ll be glad you found this band.  Or, in their words:

“So don’t steal our record,
Cause we gotta eat,
So buy our record,
Satisfies, ’cause we love the taste of meat,
We love the taste of meat!”

I’ve seen the juicy ribs Brent eats, so I’m inclined to agree.

4/5 stars

CONCERT REVIEW: Brent Doerner’s Decibel – 3/10/2007, Edelweiss Tavern, Kitchener ON

I keep finding these old concert reviews that I forgot to post here!  Enjoy this one from former HELIX guitarist Brent Doerner.  This was written the day of the show.  Photos from an old crap Motorola phone.

BRENT DOERNER’S DECIBEL – March 10 2007, Edelweiss Tavern, Kitchener ON

It was only an hour ago, but it is already a blur.

Just after 9:30 pm, Brent Doerner’s DECIBEL hit the stage at the Edelweiss with earthshaking volume. The three Gibsons of Shane Schedler, Ralph “Chick” Schumilas, and Brent himself were crystal clear and gelling beautifully. I can’t even remember what song they opened with, but it might have been “Taking The Colour Out Of The Blues”, one of the best tracks from their debut CD. This was only their second “real” show, and the new lineup (featuring bassist Hilliard Walter and Brent’s twin brother Brian Doerner, fresh off a Saga tour) sounded hot. Most importantly, the pressures of playing to a hometown crowd didn’t phase them at all, and they looked like they were having an awesome time.

Brent Doerner has evolved from Helix’s lead gunslinger to a frontman in his own right. I suppose if one is in a band for a decade and a half with a guy like Brian Vollmer, you’re bound to learn something about being a frontman. Yet Brent has his own style. He points to the crowd, he interacts with them, he slings his guitar to the side and sings to them. He hoists his guitar like a shotgun for emphasis, and does it all as if it’s second nature. The guy is a natural, no doubts there.

All the best tunes from the CD were played, in effective order, along with four new ones. And let me tell ya, folks, these weary heavy-metal eardrums of mine rarely hear a song as good as “Maybe Love”. The song has only been played twice, and they band are still working out the kinks, but could you tell? No, this song smoked, as more than one person in the audience noticed. As my fiancée noted on the way out, “that song was the single.” And yes, indeed, if Decibel were to suddenly press up a slab of 7” vinyl, that would be the song to put on the A-side.

Video for “Maybe Love”, after some lineup changes and a name switch to My Wicked Twin

The show was not without technical problems, but the band overcame with lots of comedy courtesy of Brian Doerner, and a wicked impromptu drum solo from the rock god. In the dark. He couldn’t have even seen what he was doing, but did that solo ever smoke. While some bands would view a blackout as a disaster, Decibel turned it into a rare chance to see a drum solo by one of Canada’s most underrated percussionists. And he made sure that lots of people got complimentary sticks, too, which was really cool.

One of the many highlights of the show was Shane Schedler’s vocal turn on “Never Turn Your Back”. Not to be outdone, however, Hills Walter kicked out the jams on his vocal “Dancin’ Frogs” featuring not a dancing frog, but a dancing blonde in a top hat, fishnets and Decibel panties. Sweet!

Such was the reaction from the crowd that Decibel were unexpectedly forced to retake the stage after they had already said goodnight. Having nothing else to play, they played “Taking The Colour” one more time, this time with even more excitement. The crowd ate it up, every last morsel, and left very very satisfied.

You simply must see the band live. If you care about rock and roll, if you care about local artists, then you must see this band live. If you don’t, you are the only one missing out.

Good show boys. See you next time, front row center.

5/5 stars