A quick look at two new releases from should-have-been American Idol winners. In short, it is a good day for fans of heavy melodic rock.
Daughtry “Break The Spell”
Back with his third effort, Chris Daughtry is seeking to recover from a lackluster sophomore jinx. “Break The Spell” certainly does just that – the record is a winner from start to finish, jam packed with melodic hard rock tunes. This record is much more like his blockbuster debut, bringing copious melody back into his brand of arena ready rock songs. Daughtry sounds hungry again - his vocals are soaring and passionate in every cut. Nearly every song is a winner, but if I had to choose favorites they would include “Renegade”, “Crawling Back To You”, “Outta My Head”, and “Spaceship”. If you are looking for the big power ballad, “Gone Too Soon” is the one to check out, but don’t overlook the understated beauty in the mid-tempo number, “Rescue Me”. Overall, this collection is markedly less gritty than some of his previous work, but the strong vocal performances and irresistible hooks win the day. Some fans might not appreciate his gravitation towards a more commercial sound, but it suits me just fine.
James Durbin “Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster”
One of the most shocking moments of last season’s American Idol was the premature dismissal of hard rocker James Durbin. Similar to David Cook in style and conviction, Durbin stays true to his heavy hitting roots on his debut. Blasting out first is the take no prisoners cut, “Higher Than Heaven” – despite its pious name, the tune features monstrous riffs that could make the Devil weep. It is a terrific opener, but don’t be mislead into thinking that Durbin doesn’t have the ability to balance his love of hard rock with more commercial melodies. Tracks like “All I Want” and “Love In Ruins” are much more mainstream, but will still sound as potent as “Stand Up” when it comes to belting these out live in the arena. Durbin’s voice is nothing short of amazing – he is incredibly adaptive. We all know his prowess at the mic when supporting an ferocious modern rock tune, but listen to the tenderness that shines through in songs like the touching “May”. “Love Me Bad” is probably my favorite tune, though, and Motley Crue fans should take note that Mick Mars is along for the ride on the track “Outcast”. Is it me or does Durbin actually channel some Vince Neil on this one too?