There’s a generation of males out there for whom a woman wearing a black leather cat suit can be forgiven almost anything. From middle-aged men once boys who thrilled to Diana Rigg as Emma Peel tossing bad guys around in The Avengers or their younger brothers watching Suzi Quatro on Top of the Pops. Thus, when we are greeted by Holly West purring pretty like a hard-assed she-panther on the cover of her Mokita EP we do what we must; man up, and give the record a spin.
Not the adult movie star (at least I don’t think so), but a celebrity hairdresser who then played bass with Love Stricken Demise sleaze/hard rock put together by actor Billy Blair, then an act called Honey, now going it on her own with the release of this five track EP. You can’t avoid referencing The Runaways in terms of the sounds produced, more how they might come across now – referencing a more hard-nosed mature, but frequently embittered, lyrical frame of reference rather than what may now be perceived as misconceived jailbait cynicism.
Opening cut ‘Memo’ has West delivering a message directly: Don’t play her for a fool. It comes on like an old school glam rock tune played with Germanic military precision, as does her sneering vocal annotation. Add into that some chunky blues hard rock and a real whiz of a guitar sound when it cuts loose. Playing six string throughout is Gary Hooey, and with five top-20 US Billboard hits in the bag already himself you can guarantee he doesn’t do anyone favours unless he thinks they too can deliver the goods. He’s wild and free all over the shop on the next number that happens to be title track ‘Mokita’. A transliteration gives you the phrase “The elephant in the room,” pressing home the fact that West has an axe or two to grind and she can smell out a lie a mile away. Riding in on a bass line looking for trouble, there’s some pop/near-disco beats being shuffled in the mix but overall it slides into a sexy metal groove.
The band is rounded out by drummer Brady Blade. With a CV that includes country acts like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and Dave Matthews & Friends you wouldn’t expect him to fit in but he knows how to lay down a line and there’s big hefty beat delivered from him on later track ‘Justified’– Another one where West’s bass introduces the number this times its deep and slow before the rhythm section begin syncopating. West plays her four string in that solid chunky American hard rock style that you can find in the rudiments of Montrose’s Bill Church, Van Halen’s Michael Anthony, and maybe Kiss’s Gene Simmons (all of whom you feel got their own chops from Electric Flag’s Harvey Brooks) . It’s a song about how liars justify themselves.
Changing tune quite literally the final number is a cover of ‘When the Levee Breaks’ following the Led Zeppelin formula to a T. It’s faithful and a decent listen, but you just compare, particularly in the drumming and vocal stakes and you always know what version you’d play in preference.
Midway between these tracks is ‘Home’ and it’s primarily about alien abduction, but true to form on this EP West also has it as being a subtext for feeling alienated from those around you. Lyrical themes to one side, it rocks out like Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ played by The Sweet and sung by Joan Jett.
Mokita may not change your world, but should you fancy some hard-headed glam alongside post-punk sneering and some tasty guitar work give Holly West a listen.