Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review: Valley Lodge "Semester At Sea"

Valley Lodge burst onto the power pop scene in 2005 with a smashing self-titled debut. This long-awaited follow-up, "Semester At Sea", continues to blaze the same trail, but runs down the path with a great deal more noise and speed. In the band's own words, "It’s power pop meets pop rock meets your best friend’s parents going out of town when you are sixteen and think that they won’t notice if you threw a pool party. Oh, and it’s 1978 and you are hooked on glue."

There's an abundance of swagger and cockiness here, but the band's confidence in their work is well-justified. The vocals are a cross between Marc Bolan (T. Rex) and Tom Petty, and the guitars a cross between Cheap Trick and AC/DC. But what really rocks the boat on "Semester At Sea" is some incredible drumming. The band launches from the dock and makes serious waves with four consecutive tracks that exude awesomeness, bowling the listener over with rousing guitars, jubilant harmonies, and thundering drums. While the drums and guitar riffs on "The Door" sound a lot like Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People", the track is clearly more of an arena rocker paying homage to 80s rock. The ride stays strong with the driving "When The Rain Comes" and catchy "Baby It's A Shame". The boys revisit the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts stadium drumbeat and hand claps in the crowd pleasers, "Comin' Around" and "My Baby". The record slacks off a bit towards the end as the band comes to port, with the last decent track being a sloppy and strangely entertaining cover of Bob Welch's "Sentimental Lady".

Valley Lodge is the Hummer of the pop rock world - big and brash with a 'get out of my way or I'll run your ass over' attitude. "Semester At Sea" is straight up rock and roll with a nod to glam, for fans of Cheap Trick, OK Go, Dumb Dog Run, and Sloan.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9

Valley Lodge on MySpace. Official site. Get It.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review: Calico Brothers "Tell It To The Sun"

"Tell It To The Sun" is the full-length debut album from New Zealand's Calico Brothers, who made quite a splash on the indie jangle-pop scene with their 2008 EP, "God Left Town". The band is true to its name - composed of three brothers, one cousin, and one friend, all of whom are strumming out some of the most harmonious acoustic pop this side of The Traveling Wilburys.

This country pop party kicks off with what has become my favorite track, the title track. Bright and breezy, shining with harmonica, harmonies, and banjo, "Tell It To The Sun" taps into every positive quality that alt country pop has to offer. I am hard pressed to think of a more appropriate song for a lazy sunny Sunday. The guys keep slinging the hooks and harmonies one after another, as if they're in endless supply. While I find myself gravitating more to the upbeat numbers like "Is There Anyone There" and "Weight Around My Heart", there are several easy-going ballads here if you're in the mood for something slow and tranquil. A highlight of the latter is the Beatle-esque ""Up For Air". "Tread Carefully" is another standout that starts subtly (carefully), then builds ever so gently into a flowering climax.

With just the right amount of country flair adorning their melodious harmonies, the Calico Brothers should appeal to fans of The Jayhawks, The Thorns, and Grapes of Wrath. No need to "tread carefully" when debating on whether to purchase this one!

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 6, 7, 9

Calico Brothers on MySpace. Get it here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: Alias "Never Say Never"

Many of us remember Alias as a one hit wonder from 1990 ("More Than Words Can Say"). Alias formed when Freddy Curci (vocals) re-teamed with Steve DeMarchi (guitars) after their old band's (Sheriff) hit ("When I'm With You") experienced a unexpected resurgence and took the top spot on the American charts in 1988 (the tune originally stalled at #61 in the US in 1983).

The self-titled Alias record is now considered a classic in many AOR circles, and I'll admit it is one of my favorites of the era. I was disappointed that the advent of grunge caused their 1992 follow up release to be shelved. But here we are, 17 years later (!) and, thanks to the folks at Angelmilk Records, the long delayed second Alias record is now available.

I thought "Never Say Never" would sound far too anachronistic - but it is a sonic surprise that holds up quite well to modern AOR artists like Eclipse or Stereoside, and those who are keeping the AOR flame alive, like Jimi Jamison, Tesla, or Journey's latest incarnation. Freddy Curci is in top form, with his distinctive pipes making almost any song a joy to hear, and Steve DeMarchi is ahead of the curve on where guitar tones were going those days.

"Never Say Never" contains the 13 tracks originally slated for release, plus 4 bonus tracks of hard to find Alias tunes from movie soundtracks or international releases. One word of caution: Freddy Curci fans who have "Dreamer's Road" may be disappointed that five of the tracks are duplicated - among these are some of the strongest cuts on the record, such as "Give Me A Reason To Stay", the power ballad "All I Want Is You", the tender acoustic ballad, "Diamonds", and two of the bonus tracks, "Perfect World" and "Into the Fire".

The record is unmistakeably Alias, and it truly is a welcome treat for the ears to hear Freddy Curci's distinctive vocals complementing the catchy, crunchy riffs of DeMarchi's guitars. There are plenty of memorable melodies and perfect harmonies, and tunes like "Woman Enough", "Wild Wild One", "Bare Necessity", and "Call Me" fit comfortably with the creme of the crop of Alias' debut. Fitting for the time, they do slip into silly cock rock mentality for a handful of tracks ("XTCOI"), but luckily this is kept to a minimum.

"Never Say Never" is not only an Alias fan's dream come true, but should also appeal to any fan of high quality AOR. The record is like finding a lost treasure that you once owned but misplaced and almost forgotten. "Never Say Never" goes beyond bringing the melodic rock of the late 80s back to life - it stirs nostalgic feelings, but also feels strangely contemporary.

For those interested in Freddy Curci , he was involved in a project called Zion recently; our less than thrilled review of that one is here.

iPOD worthy: 1, (4), 5, 6, 8, (9, 11, 14, 15), 17
Tracks in ( ) are duplicates found on Freddy Curci's "solo" effort, "Dreamer's Road" (1994).

Alias on MySpace.

Rare CD: Pearl Jam "Reenk Roink"

"Pearl Jam - Reenk Roink (Alternate version of "Ten") CD

In November of 1991, my freshman year in college, I was a DJ at WNUR in Evanston, Illinois.

My friend Jamie did an interview with Mike McCready and Dave Abbruzzese of Pearl Jam before their show at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago with Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers that I engineered for her.

Nice guys. They thought I was funny and gave me a t-shirt with Mookie Blaylock on it. I still have it somewhere, if it would be of interest.

Because of the above, I somehow ended up with this cd in my possession, which is a "Reenk Roink" version of the band's first album Ten. There appear to have been only a few dozen of these discs ever made.

I have confirmed that the DISP-001152 1 serial number on the disc's inner circle matches the information on I've uploaded a picture of the disc matrix.

There is blue marker on the disc face, listing the band name, album title and the words "Reeenk Roink."

While the jewel case face has a crack in it, I would be happy to put this disc in a new jewel case for the auction winner or leave it in its original case.

There is no booklet or tray card.

Five Horizons wrote the following about this cd:

"Never fear, vinyl haters, there are also rare CD's in the collector's book. The first on the list is the infamous "Reenk Roink" CD, which was a first run pressing copy of "Ten" that was hand-decorated by the band (Jeff and Ed seem to have shared chores) and handed out to clubs, radio stations, etc...These are super-rare; there were allegedly only 10, but I've seen more than that turn up on eBay over the past few years. There are probably no more than two dozen. You need to be VERY CAREFUL that you are buying a real one, and not a fake, as I've seen several questionable examples of this CD float around. If you're in the market for one of these, get to know what they are supposed to look like by watching and not bidding on some auctions. Ask around, see if people on a mailing list or BBS have one that they can scan for you...This is my favorite collectible; it's like holding a piece of Pearl Jam history in your hand."

If you have any questions about this collectable, I am happy to answer them for you. In my e-research I've read a lot about scams and people trying to pass off fakes of this item, but hopefully the fact that I sell items under my own name will give this auction some added validity.

Jon Solomon"

Sold for $1,651.02 on ebay (33 bids).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Review: Simon Felton "Failing In Biology"

Simon Felton is a member (vocals/bass) of the UK indie pop band Garfields Birthday (reviewed on BMF here). "Failing In Biology" marks his first solo release, which in many ways is another candle on the cake of Garfields Birthday.

That statement is meant as a compliment, as parallels drawn to Garfields Birthday are a good thing in my book! There continues to be a strong Connells vibe here with a perfect blend of guitar driven pop and more reflective, mellow pop. For instance, Felton kicks things off the peppy "Mister Magic Eyes", which features some boisterous guitar and rollicking drums. Quick to follow is the bouncy "In The Attic", a snappy number that should have your toes tapping along to the beat. "It's Not Rocket Science", one of the contenders for my favorite track, is a pleasant midtempo number with a hook that quickly gets under your skin. In contrast, the closing track "Neptune's Fountain" is a breezy acoustic affair that has a certain charm that makes me want to play it again.

Overall, a very solid release from Mr. Felton that should not only please fans of Garfields Birthday, but also anyone who enjoys classic Connells, The Judybats, or what Morrissey has been doing lately. Watch for "Failing In Biology" to drop on May 18, 2009 on Pink Hedgehog.

As an aside, Felton's debut CD gets my vote for coolest album title of the year so far!

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 7, 10

Simon Felton on MySpace. Official site.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Review: Paloalto "Heroes and Villains"

Imagine if Radiohead did not veer off the path of dreamy rock with drama and hooks galore as they did after "OK Computer". That is what the LA-based band Paloalto sounds like. If someone told me that "Heroes and Villains" was a follow up to Radiohead's pop rock masterpiece "The Bends", I may have just believed them. Yes, lead singer James Grundler sounds remarkably like Thom Yorke, but the comparison goes beyond his vocal tone. Paloalto specializes in grand soaring songs with heady lyrics, lush arrangements, and hooks that penetrate slow but sure.

"Heroes and Villains" was released in 2003, one of those rare sophomore releases that actually improves on the debut (2000's self-titled release was no slouch, by the way). Outside of the gorgeous song "Breathe In", which was featured on the FOX TV show called "The O.C.", the public did not get to hear much of this CD. I'm trying to change that..."Heroes and Villains" really deserved to be a breakthrough for this band. Produced by musical mastermind Rick Rubin (The Cult, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, many more), this CD is a work of art from beginning to end and it is no wonder that I find myself going back to again and again. If you enjoy Radiohead's "Pablo Honey" or "The Bends", you will love Paloalto. Standout tracks include "Fade Out/In", "Breathe In", "Throwing Stones", and "Seed".

Paloalto on MySpace.

While the band is no longer active as Paloalto, James Grundler and Tommy Black (bass) are making new music as Golden State.

Golden State on MySpace. Official site.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: Andrew Ripp "Fifty Miles To Chicago"

"Fifty Miles To Chicago" is the debut record from - surprise - Chicago's singer/songwriter Andrew Ripp. Ripp has recruited a fine assortment of established musicians to "create an organic album reminiscent of those made in the 70s and by artists like Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams". These were not the artists that came to mind as I listened to "Fifty Miles To Chicago", but there is a palpable spirit of getting down to basics so that the purity of the music and vocal can shine. Some of the notable guests on this record include producer Dan Lavery (former bass player for Tonic) and musicians Pete Maloney (Dishwalla, Tonic), keyboard player Will Hollis (Eagles), and steel guitar player Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontagne).

Andrew Ripp delivers the best of both worlds on "Fifty Miles To Chicago"; his voice is soulful and emotive, fluctuating between grit and tenderness as demanded by the lyrics, and providing perfect accompaniment whether his tune is bright and poppy or slow and sober. Things kick off with my favorite track of the bunch, the infectious and groovy "Get Your Smile On". It is hard not to do so against the backdrop of this hip, Jason Mraz style romp. Other songs, such as "Just Another Song About California" or "On My Way", feature a subtle country flavor, bordering on Jayhawks turf. You will also hear something akin to Gavin DeGraw in his more piano driven pieces, including "Tim's Song" and "The Privileged Life". Ripp sounds like a nephew of Joe Cocker on the amazing "But You Saved My Life", and then gears down for the spine-tingling closer, "Dresden Wine". This ballad builds softly with mesmerizing piano, climbing slow and sure to a dazzling climax that should leave you speechless.

If you like Ray LaMontagne, Gomez, John Mayer, then you are surely doing to dig Andrew Ripp. This guy has some serious talent and doesn't waste it on hookless, bland tunes.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11

Andrew Ripp on MySpace. "Get Ripp'd" here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: The Goodfight "Good and Evil"

The Goodfight is a one man rock and roll show from Athens, GA...this man is Jonathan Rich. This sophomore release is a "double EP" entitled, "Good & Evil" and follows the debut record, "Home Again". Why double EP rather than full-length CD? Jonathan explains, "Originally, I was just going to put out an EP with six songs on it, but the project kept evolving and taking shape. I found myself continually deconstructing it and putting it back together again and again, month after month after month. In the middle of writing I had a kid, flipped a house, and started a clothing company. At some point during the process, the idea of a double EP that, when put together, formed an LP surfaced."

Now with that cleared up (?), let's just get to the 12 tracks on the CD. As one might surmise, there is a distinct dichotomy between the two halves of "Good & Evil". Side one is called "We are far too easily pleased" and consists of mostly catchy rock with preachy song titles such as "Honesty Is The Best Policy" and "Those Pills and That Bottle Are A Trap" that almost make me feel like my mother is going to sing these songs to me. Other titles I believe I've seen in fortune cookies ("Success Doesn't Fix Everything"). The second side is called "Holiday" and is comprised of more unplugged, but deeply textured pieces that are more of an art than pop music. So side one will appeal to the popsters who crave instant gratification; side two to those who are more into quiet, fine dining.

As Jonathan Rich elaborates, "I thought it would be interesting to build a massive divide between the two EPs, while still telling a story that was central". And this is exactly what he does on "Good & Evil". Readers who know me will have guessed by now that I am way more into the songs on side one. Favorites include the snappy "I Put You In A Box But I'm The One That's Boxed In", the highly melodic "She's Too Pretty To Be So Ugly", and the slow burner "Mirrors Don't Lie But People Do". And, just to showcase my occasional inclination towards musical sophistication, I will also highlight "Revolution" from side two.

I recommend The Goodfight to fans of Dashboard Confessional, Death Cab for Cutie, and Snow Patrol. As a bonus, The Goodfight is offering a sticker, button, poster, and screen printed sack for the first 300 sold. Even more important, Rich is living up to his band moniker's name - as part of The Goodfight10000, all revenue generated by physical and digital sales of "Good & Evil" will be given to Living Water International to help fund projects that build wells and provide poverty stricken communities in countries all over the world access to clean water. Good on you, Jonathan, and best of luck!

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 4, 10

The Goodfight on MySpace. Official site.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: Deathray "Deathray" [2000]

I am speculating that Deathray is one of those bands that never got a fair shot because of their name. If you knew nothing about them, what would you guess a band named Deathray would sound like? Metal?

Deathray is far from bone crushing guitars and howling screeches; in fact, two of their members used to be in the indie band Cake (Greg Brown, guitar and Victor Damiani, bass). But Deathray doesn't sound like Cake either...Deathray is 80% pop rock and 20% space rock. So I am guessing the name plays on their tendency to incorporate some soaring, atmospheric textures in their sound. Vocalist Dana Gumbiner reminds me of Owsley quite a bit, and some of this band's songs are as catchy as something Owsley might write as well.

The CD is quite good and I am surprised it didn't get more attention in 2000. Opening track "My Lunatic Friends" is a crowd pleaser, a modern day Cheap Trick meets Weezer sounding rocker with big hooks and well done harmony vocals. "What Would You Do?", "Now That I Am Blind", and the mildly eclectic "Someone After You" are additional highlights. The rest is not bad, but not strong enough to demand repeated listens...not immediately, anyway. The CD is available for a single fat penny (used at There is a second CD out there and I am inclined to check it out if I can find it. Too bad these guys called it quits in 2007 - one listen to their debut and you'll agree they had a budding chemistry and tremendous potential.

Check out Deathray if you like Abandoned Pools, Guided By Voices, or Eels. Pop rockers should at least check out the tracks I've highlighted, especially "My Lunatic Friends".

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 7, 8

Deathray on MySpace. Official site.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Review: Webstirs "So Long"

On hiatus since 2001, Chicago-based pop rockers The Webstirs return with their fourth release entitled, "So Long". Indeed, 8 years is a long time, but the songwriting talents and performance skills of The Webstirs have only gotten better with age.

Songwriters Preston Pisellini (guitars/vocals) and Mark Winkler (keyboards/vocals) have teamed up with their long-time producer Matt Allison to deliver the twelve pop gems comprising "So Long". The Webstirs specialize in writing infectious pop melodies that have a strong Beatles or Brian Wilson flavor, while retaining a very contemporary sound. "So Long" is thoroughly engaging and entertaining from beginning to end.

Things get underway (and close) with an instrumental piece that serves to cleanse the musical palate. Without further ado, the bright and brassy "Wesley Station" kicks the CD into high gear, showcasing the band's knack to fuse crunchy and jangly guitar riffs. Like many of the other songs that follow, the mix of key pop ingredients is perfect - horns and other dramatic orchestration blend in very effectively with the crisp guitars and plentiful harmonies. Imagine a jam session between Jellyfish and Weezer! "Somewhere to Start" flexes some more guitar muscle, but remains grounded in a solid sing-a-long hook. But the band isn't all about guitars, as evidenced by the bouncy piano of the delightfully catchy "Malaise" and the equally enjoyable "Calendar Faces". "Apparition Shrine" sounds like it would fit most comfortably on a Weezer record. "Still Drowning" is one of my favorite cuts, its driving bass and jamming guitar riff hitting all the right buttons - sounds a bit like AC/DC jamming with Jason Falkner!

"So Long" is so good, I am so looking forward to getting tangled up in the rest of The Webstirs' CDs. Highly recommended for fans of Britpop, Jellyfish, Superdrag, and Fastball.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11

The Webstirs on MySpace. Official site. Get CD here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rare CD for sale! BOB DYLAN "Songs From the Soundboard '97" - 2 CD

I'm selling some rare CDs! Contact me for info and with your best price.

Here we have BOB DYLAN "Songs From the Soundboard '97" - 2 CD LIVE set!

Disc One: Absolutely Sweet Marie; Man in the Long Black Coat; Tough Mama; Under the Red Sky; Silvio; Stone Walls & Steel Bars; Mr. Tamborine Man; Tangled Up In Blue; Stuck Inside of Mobile; Blind Willie McTell; Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat

All recorded live from the soundboard 23.08.97 at Wolftrap - Vienna Virginia

Disc Two: Like A Rolling Stone; Don't Think Twice, It's Alright; Alabama Getaway; Babe, It Ain't No Lie; Not Fade Away; I Want You; You Ain't Going Nowhere; Rovin' Gambler; Long Black Veil; One of Us Must Know; Babe, It Ain't No Lie (II); I've Got A Secret

All recorded live at Wolftrap on various dates

Incredible cuts for collectors!

Rare CD for sale! PEARL JAM "Attenzione"

I'm selling some rare CDs! Contact me for info and with your best price.

Here we have PEARL JAM "Attenzione" (1994, Italy Import)

Tracks: Even Flow; Once; State of Love & Trust; Alive; Why Go; Porch; Attenzione/Jeremy; Breathe; I've Got A Feeling; Hunger Strike/Leash

Recorded LIVE IN ITALY during "10 European Tour", Feb 1992

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rare CDs FOR SALE! - Radiohead "Glastonbury"

I'm selling some rare CDs! Contact me for info and with your best price.

Here we have RADIOHEAD "Glastonbury 2003 (Holland)" (Brute Force Records).

Tracks (live): There There; 2+2=5; Lucky; The National Anthem; Talk Show Host; Where I End and You Begin; Climbing Up The Walls; The Gloaming; No Surprises; Fake Plastic Trees; Sit Down, Stand Up; Go To Sleep; Sail to the Moon; Paranoid Android; Idioteque; Everything In It's Right Place; Street Spirit

Recorded Live @ Glastonbury Holland, 2003

Review: Jack Butler "Fit the Paradigm"

"Fit the Paradigm" is the brand new debut album from the Stirling-based quartet calling themselves Jack Butler. True to the record's title, these guys are very much aligned with modern rock paradigms exemplified by groups like Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, and Modest Mouse. If you can't get enough of this type of music, then Jack Butler is right up your alley. My main problem is that if you've heard one song by one of these groups, you've pretty much heard them all.

But Jack Butler takes admirable strides to break the mold here and set themselves apart. They are more hook-centric than their counterparts and their musicianship rivals any of the aforementioned artists. Jack Butler decorates their driving rock songs with plenty of feisty funk, unorthodox percussion, intelligent lyrics, and touches of 80s effects. Lead vocalist Liam Kelly exhibits an intriguing combination with his voice: he has that distinctive John Lydon sneer, but can falsetto like nobody's Mika. Definitely a dynamic and booty shaking disc. Standout tracks include "Hit It Out of the Park, Son", "Are You A Hustler?" and "He Got No Game". "Velvet Prose" also has potential, but the hook dulls quickly due to too much repetition.

While I don't think Jack Butler hit it out of the park with this one, "Fit the Paradigm" is certainly no strike out. Another chance at bat and they may just nail it.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 10

Jack Butler on MySpace.

Check out the video for "Hit it Out the Park, Son"

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rare CD: Review: Franke and the Knockouts "Below the Belt"

"Below the Belt" was the 1982 sophomore effort from this short-lived AOR band from Jersey, better known for their initial hit "Sweetheart" (which graced the top 10 in 1981). Franke (Previte) and the Knockouts released 3 CDs total and many consider them to be lost gems of the era. They are also known for "discovering" drummer Tico Torres, who played with them in 1983-4 before joining Bon Jovi. Curiously, there is a song on "Below the Belt" called Gina, who in Bon Jovi's lyrical lexicon, "dreams of running away".

Franke and the Knockouts really should have been more than a one hit wonder - maybe a three or four hit wonder. Franke Previte wrote some excellent melodies, and sang them with an exceptional voice that sounded a lot like Mike Reno (Loverboy) with a touch of Lou Gramm. Musically, Franke and the Knockouts also sounded a lot like classic Foreigner.

"Below the Belt" had a moderate hit with the cozy balled, "Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)". Some other cool lost AOR cuts on this record include the punchy "Never Had It Better" and the mellow mid-tempo number, "Morning Sun (Dream On)". Of course, no AOR record is complete without a Survivor-ish anthem for the rebellious at heart; "Keep On Fighting" fills that quota, complete with plenty of thumping bass.

Proving that good tunes eventually find more than a few ears, Previte later went on to win an Academy Award since some of his early songs, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and "Hungry Eyes" were recorded by other artists for 1987's huge "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack. The original versions recorded by Franke and the Knockouts can be found together on their "Sweetheart Collection" disc, but you'll need to take out a loan to pay for it. "Below the Belt" don't come any cheaper.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 5, 7

Franke and the Knockouts - official site.

And look here - a video for "Without You"!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Review: Lloyd Dobler Effect "Lloyd Dobler Effect"

"I am looking for a dare-to-be-great situation", states offbeat hero Lloyd Dobler in "Say Anything". In many ways, the Washington D.C.-based band Lloyd Dobler Effect are doing the same with their music and achieving impressive levels of success. They've performed more than 1,400 shows in 39 states and 14 countries (including three Armed Forces Entertainment Tours), were named Boru Vodka's Defend the Bar Band winner, won the 99.1 WHFS Big Break Contest, and were voted one of the top ten best bands in the DC area in a Washington Post reader's poll.

Just a few songs in, it is easy to see why this young band is earning so many accolades already. Their self-titled debut has been over 4 years in the making, but the results speak for themselves. The album bears the stamps of perfectionism and professionalism from start to finish - it is evident that lots of meticulous thought and attention to detail has gone into every single track. Lead singer Phil Kominsky's tone has a Rob Thomas quality to it - a good mix of muscle and heart. His vocals are remarkably amenable to the diverse blend of rock and pop genres heard on this record. There's a little something for everyone - modern rock, pop rock, pop, Latin, blue eyed soul, and alternative. But the one things these guys have that unifies the varying musical styles is a solid and memorable hook.

The first three tracks are outstanding pop rockers, belted out with the kind of confident swagger that you'd expect from a band much more seasoned than these guys. "Spain" sounds like what Maroon 5 would do with Santana - we hear some of this again on the genre-shifting opus, "Stranger". "Release Me" and "The Past" and two more of the catchy, upbeat tracks that return to straight up pop rock, my preferred style. The disc closes with a streak of strong tunes right up my alley, such as the mid-tempo "Empty Reach", the driving "Going Back To The End", the attitude-laden "Harvard", and rousing "I Have The Touch".

Lloyd Dobler Effect have dared to be great in delivering their fresh blend of musical styles; their painstaking efforts in producing this excellent debut should pay off in high dividends. It won't surprise me in the least if Lloyd Dobler Effect becomes a household name by the end of the year. Recommended if you like matchbox twenty, Seven and the Sun, O.A.R., and Maroon 5.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15

Lloyd Dobler Effect on MySpace. Official site.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

News: Shake Some Action! - free songs, new blog

This is really cool out of the box thinking...check out this exciting news from Shake Some Action! (previous record review here):

"We’re going to invite you into the studio with us so you can see and
hear what we’re up to from day one. We'll be blogging and twittering
as we go, posting videos, photos and rough mixes so you’ll see and
hear our progress as it happens.

We’ll also be working a little differently. Instead of working on a
bunch of songs at once, we’ll be working on one at a time until the
song is finished. As soon as it’s mixed we’ll post it online as a
free download. Then we’ll start working on the next song. Eventually
we’ll shortlist the best dozen songs and release it as our next

Along the way we’ll be asking for your feedback and ideas and we’ll
incorporate as many of those into the record as we can. Instead of
locking you out of the process until it’s over, we’re inviting you to
be part of it. We hope you enjoy the ride!

We just posted our first song this past weekend, and it's
available for download now right here. We
just released the second song, with many more to come."

I love what I hear so far! --BMF