Drowning Men Beheading The Song Bird

The Drowning Men
The Drowning Men

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Damn, just seeing that album title convinced me that I needed to listen to this band.  Beheading of the Songbird?  Twisted? Maybe. Interesting? For sure. I think I’d describe it as eclectic and hectic – and good for the ears.

I first became aware of this San Diego area quintet when Flogging Molly brought them on tour and subsequently signed them as the first act on their new Indie label Borstal Beat.

The album was originally released in the UK two years ago, but has just now been released in the United States.  It’s an excellent introduction to their powerful and divers music.  It’s a unique sound. I would imagine the progeny of Arcade Fire and The Pogues would have resulted in a band just like The Drowning Men.

Their music is deep and layered, packed with dark lyrics and filled with passion.  It seems as though it would translate fantastically into an excellent live show.  And, you’ll be able to see for yourself this fall, as they tour the country supporting The Airborne Toxic Event.

The selections on Beheading of The Song Bird are hit or miss, but the best tunes are very strong.  “Songbird” is a future anthem in the making. It’s a song about a troubled youngster struggling with the aftermath of something horrible he’s done: “I took all his worries, I cut away his charm. From the nest to the hand, What a mess Iʼve done.” The song starts with some nice keys from Gabriel Messer and features moving vocals from Nathan “Nato” Bardeen throughout; where he seems to channel Arcade Fire’s Win Butler.

“Oracle Meets Weeping Willows” is beautiful and is a fitting intro to another strong song, “Down These Days,” which resembles Arcade Fire.  “Get A Heart”and “More Than This” are also excellent arrangements that spotlight the band broad musical talent. The songs that feeatured piano and keyboards were the most memorable.

The cut with the greatest potential for airplay is “Rita” driven by the powerful drums of Rory Dolan, and melancholy vocals of a relationship gone bad.  It’s got a nice sing-along vibe despite the dour message.

“Courageous Son” is my personal favorite. The lyrics reflect tough times adjusting to life in America. “This is the wishy washy land, That you hold so dear. This is the final cure, This is America. In their hearts you will never win!” The music belies the lyrics and conjure images of a crazy musical carnival ride. It brought back good memories of The Killers and Pogues. Good stuff!

Check out the tracks on iTunes.

Rock On – Cretin

You Are Lovedrug – A Chat with Michael Shepard

Lovedrug has taken a novel approach to funding their upcoming album release. The Alt-Rock veterans have been sharing their distinctive sound for nearly a decade, but now they’re taking a creative new approach that re-defines Indie music. Michael Shepard, the engaging and talented front man stopped by the farm to share the I AM LOVEDRUG experience, as well as to chat about a few other things.

Cretin: So, before we get into the I am Lovedrug experience, can you explain the group’s name? I’ve heard that it is not a reference to an aphrodisiac, but more about your passion for creating music?

Michael Shepard: You’re correct. It’s funny, a lot people do think of it as we’re slinging ecstasy or something. That’s not really what our M.O. is. It was really a time when I had gone through a lot with my old band and decided to get out of the game and spend some time away from music. I realized it was something I couldn’t escape. My passion or whatever that inner desire is that exists in people when they have something they know they should be doing. It’s just something you can’t walk away from. The name is really derivative of that concept. The love for something sort of drags you along whether you want to or not.

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Cretin: You guys went the major label route and had some ups and downs. Now, you’re taking a novel new approach with a Pledge Music campaign.  How did you choose that route, is it something new?

Michael Shepard: I had never heard of the concept until a friend of mine went through a Kick Starter campaign to raise money to record her album. I thought it was really fantastic how the fans could get involved and help the artist.  I thought it was a wonderful concept so we started doing research and found several sites that do a similar thing. Some are more geared toward businesses, others are for the arts.  Kick starter is about anything you can imagine.  Pledge is strictly music. The inner workings are a bit different and made the most sense for us and where we’re at.

Cretin: looking at the website, iamlovedrug.com, it looks like you had a great response to it.

Michael Shepard: We really did.  It was above and beyond our expectations.   We raised enough money to record our first album and everything that we were shooting for we got, and it was all thanks to the fans that pledged through that site.  It worked 100% – more than 100%, we were ecstatic.

Cretin: I was looking over some of the things you did and some of them were off the wall. Answering machine messages, postcards from the road, standard stuff like autographs and liner notes, but then I saw you had an afternoon of bowling thrown in there. Where did those ideas come from?

Michael Shepard: Yeah, haha.  Well some of them we thought up, and our manager was sort of cooking up some of those schemes.  Bowling was mine because I love to bowl and thought what a better way to celebrate an afternoon than to hang out with someone who digs our music and go bowling.

Cretin: I thought that was out of the box – an awesome idea.  Was there any one item greatly appreciated by the fans or that had a great response which really surprised you?

Michael Shepard: Well, yeah, the biggest response was for cover songs. We got so many requests for covers because it was not an astronomical price(it was only $150). It was something that if someone wanted to donate kind of above and beyond, but not crazy they could get this cover song option.  We were shocked at how many responded to that.  It was a challenge, because they would pick the song, we’d do it the way we do it, personalize it and send it to them.  We got songs all over the map to cover which was a challenge to me personally, but a lot of fun, too.  That’s why the tail end of all that we put together The Best of I Am Lovedrug CD which is actually just  a compilation of  some of those cover songs so that everyone could hear how they turned out.  It was a lot of fun.

Cretin:You guys were offering videos at a reasonable price too weren’t you?

Michael Shepard: Yeah, that was another option we had. In retrospect we probably should’ve shortened it a little bit more just  because of the amount of work that went into it we were shocked when we have tons and tons of cover songs to record, but it was worth it, at the end of the day it was all worth it.

Cretin: I was talking to Eric James of The Last Royals and I asked him what his favorite cover song ever was and he picked your cover of “Pure Imagination.” I first thought “someone covering Willy Wonka? That’s insane.” But it was really cool; you put your own spin on it, an interesting approach to the song.

Michael Shepard: Thank you, we really enjoyed doing that one.  It was actually our guitar player’s brother who requested we do that one. It was sort of a little poke because Jeremy Gifford, our guitar player is a huge Willy Wonka fan – one of his favorite films of all times.  So we were pretty excited to cover that one.

Cretin: During that whole event was there one song other than “Pure Imagination” that you really enjoyed recording for one reason or another.

Michael Shepard: Oddly I really liked the way “Nights In White Satin: turned out, we did that, too and it sort of pulled on my heart strings. I can’t even explain why. It just sounded a lot more melancholy than I meant it to sound, but very cool and is actually one of my favorites.

Cretin: That’s an interesting choice. I grew up with an uncle who is a huge Moody Blues fan so I listened to that music a lot when I was a kid.  Is that cut on your The Best of I Am Lovedrug record?

Michael Shepard: Actually I don’t think it made it on there.  There were a bunch we had to choose from and it was a collective choosing to figure what should go on and what  shouldn’t. It didn’t quite make the cut, but it still remains my favorite.

Cretin: Very cool. I’ll definitely look for that. (I did look but could not find a copy anywhere, but there are a slew of very creative covers on the album). Going back to your approach on the forthcoming album; in the past you were with Columbia then before that you were with Militia Group but now you’re really on your own.

Michael Shepard: Yeah, we’re really doing everything ourselves. It’s us and our manager. It’s a lot different than when we started out.

Cretin: Different in a good way or bad way? I imagine it’s a bit of both?

Michael Shepard: It is a bit of both but mostly positive. I’d say 90% is positive actually just because there is no red tape. There is always a certain amount of waiting room effect. “OK, great you turned out a record now sit out here while we do our thing,” and things seem to get sort of lost in the cracks and its unfortunate but when you’re working completely independently like we are now there is more freedom to make decisions like we did to connect directly to fans and say “hey we want to make a record, we need your help or we want to cover a Moody Blues song and throw it up on the internet.” We can do these things and there are clever ways to propel ourselves.  There’s a little bit of freedom that’s lost when you’re dealing with a label.  It’s been a blessing honestly, maybe in disguise at first, but we really enjoy the freedom now.

Cretin: It has to be rejuvenating to go through that process and do what you think makes sense. It’s really all riding on you guys and your manager whether this album makes it and the album is successful.

Michael Shepard: Absolutely. Not that there was finger pointing before, but you only have yourself to blame. We know that if we’re giving 100 percent and working hard, there’s no way the ball’s going to get dropped unless we drop it. Really that whole concept is so indicative of where we are at right now as a band.

Cretin: A new approach?

Michael Shepard: Yeah, everything. We’ve been a band for ten years now, but at the same time, this feels like our first album. We feel like a new band, and that same energy is still there and I feel like it’s becoming even more intense and bubbling up like it used to when you first strapped on a guitar and start a band for the first time. That feeling can kind of wane, but fortunately for us, we’re at a point where we’ve rejuvenated ourselves.

Cretin: So, now that you’ve been doing this for ten years, any major shifts in the way you approach things?

Michael Shepard: There’s been a lot of changes.  The way we approach writing is a lot more relaxed now. A lot of the pressure used to be on me, just because I was working with musicians that were hired to be on call and it wasn’t much of a band but more a solo thing, whereas now it’s way more of a collective effort. The group of guys in this band all put their equal input into the creative process and it makes for a much more enjoyable song in the end.

Cretin: Sounds like you’ve now got a band with a lot more passion about what they’re doing?

Michael Shepard: And it translates in all kinds of ways. It certainly translates live, because inevitably someone is just going to play more passionately when they had a part in the making of what you’re playing.

Cretin: So, I noticed “Pink Champagne” off of your recent EP will be on the new record.  Are there any other songs we’ll be familiar with?

Michael Shepard: There will be a couple. The songs “Ladders” and “We Were Owls” were on the EPs and they made the record, and then there were a whole bunch that we hadn’t released that we wanted to save for the final album.

Cretin: Tell me about directing the video for Dinosaur, the first single from the new album.

Michael Shepard: I went to film school during my break from music.  That video was a short story I had kicking around for awhile so I thought it would be fun to bring it to fruition via a Lovedrug video.

Check out Lovedrug music on iTunes

RARA’s Six Pack (six quick mindless questions):

Cretin: You grew up fairly close to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  When you are inducted, who do you want making the induction speech?

Michael Shepard: If he’s still kicking around, Billy Corgan. I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan, One of the first bands I heard that really turned my world upside down.

Cretin:  Your favorite cover tune?

Michael Shepard: That’s a tough one. One that always made me chuckle was The Deftones cover of Freebird. That was pretty hilarious and awesome.

Cretin: What’s your high score in bowling?

Michael Shepard: I’m very proud to say my high score was 269.

Cretin: Do you have a favorite city where you like to play?

Michael Shepard: I could name dozens that I love to play.  The ones that stand out are Chicago, I love playing Chicago, and we always get fantastic responses playing in New York. And, actually Nashville which is one of the many reasons we moved here.

Cretin: Of all the bands you’ve toured with over the years, who left a lasting impression?

Michael Shepard: We’ve toured with some fantastic bands, and some not so fantastic bands, but we won’t name those. We got to play with The Killers a long time ago before they were big and that was cool. They were really nice guys.

Cretin: What’s your favorite roller coaster?

Michael Shepard: Probably still The Magnum at Cedar Point. Not the tallest one any more, but it scared the living shit out of me when I rode it.

Cretin: Thanks for visiting with us and best of luck with the album.

Michael Shepard: Thank you. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has helped us out and pledged along the way. I know it’s been a long process, but I wanted to thank everyone for their patience, and let them knwo the record is going to be out by March.

 

Grouplove – You Can Trust These Happy Songs

Never Trust a Happy Song
Grouplove's latest album Never Trust a Happy Song

I was intrigued by this band the first time I heard their quirky Alt-Rock hit “Colours.” It’s a catchy tune that immediately grabs your attention with the unique and edgy vocals of Christian Zucconi and a memorable chorus.  I was expecting an album packed with similar songs, but “colour” me surprised, as it is a very diverse collection of mostly excellent songs.

The album, Never Trust A Happy Song kicks off with a cool handclap intro to “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” and bounces across the spectrum with a bunch of clever, original, happy pop tunes.  It’s good stuff for the most part and definitely worth a listen. The quintet is clearly taking chances on this album; there’s no cookie cutter recipe for success here.  They throw out a bunch of stuff, lots of different sounds and approaches, and although they’re not all perfect, this album is packed with excellent tracks.

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The first four cuts are all mainstream Alt-Rock tunes, with “Colours” and “Itchin’ On a Photograph” the two with potential to get the most AltNation-like airtime.  But, the album grinds to a halt on the aptly titled “Slow.” Not a bad tune, but it belongs somewhere else on the album. The next few songs are back along the happy vein, “Naked Kids” is a fun ode to adolescent fun, and “Spun” is a catchy tune with a great ukulele intro, another nice surprising nugget on an album packed with them!  Then, it’s another trip down the roller coaster for “Betty’s a Bombshell.”

The next two back-to-back tracks are my favorites on the album. “Chloe” is a fantastic song. Absolutely fun – a blast to listen to, and one of my top 2011 discoveries.  It’s got a bit of a rockabilly sound and features powerful drumming from Ryan Rabin, the son of uber-talented Trevor Rabin.  “Love Will Save Your Soul” is another great track, and spotlights Hannah Hooper’s superb vocals.  Along with “Colours,” these two are the highlights of the album.

As the album winds down, the last few cuts continue to highlight the band’s diversity, “Cruel and Beautiful World” offers Zucconi’s strongest vocals and great harmonies from Hooper and the rest of the band.  It is a beautiful song, and destined to be a soundtrack staple for years to come. On this song and throughout, Ryan Rabin’s production is fantastic.

I have to give the band credit. They’re talented and they’ve experimented a bit here – and it works.  There are a few misses, but for the most part, this is a strong and deep album that features a handful of great songs, and a few more that are destined to grow on you over time.  Buy the album; just rearrange the songs on your playlist.

Cretin

 

Grouplove’s Official Website

Egypt Central’s – White Rabbit Album Review

While doing some online music browsing recently I stumbled across Egypt Central. “White Rabbit” is their sophomore album and one that took some time to produce. This twelve track CD hosts a wide variety of musical tastes, as some songs are all-out hard core rock songs, while others are slower rock.

The lyrics are all very personal and clearly based on personal experiences. Egypt Central doesn’t just make up words for their songs, they sing about things they have experienced, hardships they face, and feelings they must deal with. I think the personal side of their music makes it very easy for people to relate. They sing about such a wide variety of stuff; drugs, heartbreak, abandonment, fear and power, so that almost any person of any background can relate to at least one of their songs.

Their first song, “Ghost Town” opens the album on the calmer side. This is not one of my favorite songs, there’s no real hook and the beat is kind of hard to get into. I thought this song was an odd choice to open the album and it didn’t really leave me dying to listen to the rest of the CD… but boy am I glad that I did.

“White Rabbit,” their second track and first single is one of my favorites! I could listen to this song over and over again. The chorus is extremely catchy, reflecting about Alice from Alice in Wonderland and her magic white rabbit. The lyrics talk about how they keep diving down the hole and can’t seem to break out of this terrible addiction that they have. The more I hear this song the more I love it. There is a line in the middle of the song where John Falls sings; “I won’t be pushed aside, I will be heard. I will get what I want, what I deserve.” And then the entire band repeats the line with much more heart and you sense that they are passionate about these lyrics.

“Goodnight” takes things a little slower. Another one of my favorite songs on the CD, this one really brings out Falls’ focal talent. He spends a lot more time in this song singing soulfully as opposed to screaming and rocking out. The tune shows a softer side to Egypt Central singing about a relationship that didn’t last – “Goodnight, goodnight, this pain won’t last forever.” Once again a very catchy song that’s extremely relatable, and by far one of the best displays of vocal talent on this album.

“Are you ready too… are you ready to… Kick Ass?” The fourth song and currently the band’s most popular, “Kick Ass” has been heard on radio stations and is quickly climbing the charts. I must say I don’t completely agree that this is the best song on the album. It is catchy and a good crowd pleasing song but I feel like there are other tracks that deserve more recognition. “Kick Ass” is probably the most upbeat, head-banging song on the CD. A very hard rock beat with loud vocals, it’s sure to get any rock and roll fan going.

“Change” is another more alternative rock cut and one that also accentuates the singer’s vocals as well as some good guitar riffs. I didn’t love nor dislike this song, it is a good track and suits the album well but nothing extremely different. It is once again a relatable song for most people who need to step up and make changes in their lives before it’s too late.

The sixth song on the album “The Drug, Part 1” is a fun song! On this one in particular, I really enjoy the guitar and drums more so then the vocals. It’s a very fast paced track that keeps my head nodding the entire time. It’s written about drugs, hence the name, and the band’s personal preference on their choices and beliefs on the drug scene.

“Down in Flames” is my least favorite song on the album. It’s not a bad song, just nothing special in my mind. They open with a man talking as opposed to music and the lyrics and beat just don’t really do anything for me. One thing I will say about this song is the guitar has some nice solos in the middle of this song.

“Enemy Inside, Part 2” is another one of my favorites, and another very slow paced song. I really like when Falls slows down the music and you can really hear his voice – which sounds amazing in the beginning of this song. The first verse gives me chills listening to his vocals. You can feel his relationship with the song. I like the lyrics, too, talking about the enemies we all battle inside ourselves. Sometimes our dark problems take control of us – “one last time to feed the enemy inside.” This is a great song.

Ah number nine, “Blame” – This song is a completely different type of song from any song on the CD; a very upbeat, fun song to listen to. The chorus is the highlight of this song – very catchy and the music backing up the lyrics works perfectly. We hear some of Falls’ more raspy vocals in this song and also a bit of his screaming talent. “Blame it’s a dangerous game to play, you better watch who you betray”- the lyrics couldn’t be more true.

“Dying to Leave” is probably the saddest song on the album. Basically a song where a guy just needs a girl to make up her mind and decide if she wants to be with him or not. This is a typical heartache song, well written and performed.

“Surrender” opens up with a very fun guitar, bass, and drum solo. They keep this upbeat tempo going throughout the entire song. It’s a very fun almost dance type track. Definitely not a song you can sit still and listen to. I guarantee you’ll be bobbing your head and tapping your feet by the end of this one. I love this cut and I think it’s very fun.

The last song on the album, “Backfire,” is an interesting way to close out an album. I love the song, it’s very slow, and the vocals once again are amazing. At first I doubted it was even Egypt Central; it sounded so different, but after a few listens I really like it. This track also features the other members of the band singing and it adds a lot to the song. An unexpected end to the album but I was pleasantly surprised.

Check out the album at iTunes:

B-52s Land in Orlando

The B-52’s, the legendary 80’s Cosmic Rockers, touched down in Orlando for a show in the new Amway Center this weekend. WMMO, Orlando’s Classic Rock station hosted the free show. Typically these shows are hit or miss, and it’s always a dice roll as to whether you get a band playing with passion or just collecting a paycheck. Honestly I sensed a little bit of both on this night. The current edition of the touring B-52’s includes all four original living members. Front man Fred Schneider and fellow vocalist Cindy Wilson seemed to be going through the motions most of the night. On the opposite side of the specturm, guitarist Keith Strickland and timeless singer Kate Pierson were absolutely engaged and on the top of their game.

The other three touring members are all accomplished rockers and did a fine job keeping the rhythm and keys fresh throughout the evening. Stirling Campbell (Cindy Lauper, Soul Asylum) was on drums and Paul Gordon (New Radicals, Goo Goo Dolls) manned the keyboards. Former Waitresses member Tracy Wormworth was on bass.

Pierson’s vocals were spectacular throughout the night, and she still looks and moves like she did in the eighties. Truly amazing! Strickland seemed stoked from the first song, played with energy and gave a nice heart-felt close at the end of the show. Fred was noticeable, but lethargic, and his voice is showing signs of the many tours under his belt.

The show kicked off with a decent version of “Pump,” and then immediately moved to one of their classics, “Private Idaho.” Over the course of the evening they played 17 songs in their 80 minute set and played all of their classics including “Mesopotamia,” “52 Girls,” “Roam” and “Cosmic Thing.” The band was tight, and the musicianship was excellent all night.

Fred took a brief break in the middle of the set, and Kate Pierson moved front and center, and blew the crowd away on the lead for “Roam” and “52 Girls” with Wilson.  Schneider then returned with a strong version of “Party Out of Bounds.”

They closed their set with a great sing-along version of “Love Shack” that had the crowd on its feet. The band returned for an excellent two song encore that kicked off with absolutely stunning vocals from Pierson. As the band kicked into Planet Claire, which s probably my favorite B-52’s tune, Pierson sang the entire intro perfectly on pitch. True confession – I always thought that intro was a synthesizer and not vocals. Absolutely fantastic! The song was great and raised the fever pitch of the crowd for their signature closing song, “Rock Lobster,” which brought the house down.

All-in-all, I’m glad I finally got to see these guys live, but can’t help but wonder how much better they were when they were all at their peak.

The band is touring in support of their just released live album, With the Wild Crowd! (Live In Athens, GA), that features many of the songs in the setlist noted below. Check it out on i-Tunes.

Finally, a shout out to the folks at WMMO. Due to tropical storm-like deluges, the show was moved from an outdoor venue to the modern new arena at the last minute. Kudos to WMMO and the City for pulling off that feat flawlessly.

Thanks – Mike G.

Setlist
Pump
Private Idaho
Mesopotamia
Ultraviolet
Dancing Now
Give Me Back My Man
Funplex
Roam
52 Girls
Party Out of Bounds
Love in the year 3000
Cosmic Thing
Hot Corner
Whammy Kiss
Love Shack
Planet Claire
Rock Lobster

 

Egypt Central “Kick’s Ass”

So I have a question… Are you ready to “Kick Ass?”  Egypt Central sure was Wednesday night in Tallahassee. The band from Memphis, Tennessee lit up Floyds and had the crowd going crazy during their incredibly energetic performance. I spoke to multiple people during the show commenting that Egypt Central most definitely stole the spotlight Wednesday, many noting they were more entertaining than headliner Hinder, and I must say I have to agree.

The band had more energy than any other band I saw perform that night. The bassist Joey Chicago played the entire set shirtless and for good reason, he moved around so much he would have been dying with a shirt on. The lead singer, John Falls, never once lost momentum during his songs; his amazing performance was well matched by his outstanding vocals. He spent the majority of the show standing on a shadow box flailing his arms in what look like a Tae-Kwon-Do style.

The highlight of the show was Egypt Central’s performance of “Kick Ass” their new hit single now being played on the radio. As you may have seen in my album review of the band I didn’t totally enjoy the version on the album and I wasn’t quite sure why everyone found it to be such a hit, until I heard it live. Talk about getting a crowd going. At no other point did I see the crowd so involved in a performance as I did for this song. The entire crowd was on their feet screaming along with the words. Even those who didn’t know the words quickly caught on.

Egypt Central left the crowd’s ears ringing and hearts pounding after their powerful performance. I love watching a band play their hearts out, and really enjoy what they are doing. When you can tell the lead singer craves the attention of the crowd and the guitarist thrives off the screams and chants, you can tell that this band is doing what they love and that’s exactly how I felt with Egypt Central. They clearly left more of an impression then any band that night and I would recommend to anyone to give this band a listen.

Set List:

  • Taking you Down
  • Over and Under
  • Ghost Town
  • Kick Ass
  • Blame
  • The Drug
  • The Way
  • You Make Me Sick
  • White Rabbit

 
 

Mother Mother – Eureka

Eureka! Yup, I’m a little late, but I finally got my hands on Eureka, the third album from Mother Mother, a talented and under-appreciated quintet from Vancouver, British Columbia. Definitely worth the wait for this diverse collection of alt-country-dance-funkadelic-harmonic rock. It’s impossible to classify their sound as anything but original; they sound like Mother Mother, period.  And, that’s just fine for open-minded rock and roll animals like myself.

The album is pretty damn entertaining and definitely worth a few listems. I strongly recommend giving it a few spins (and “yes” it is available on vinyl), as these ditties grow on you.

Eureka is produced by Ryan Guldemold, the band’s principal writer, lead guitarist and male vocalist. Mother Mother also features the vocals of Ryan’s sister Molly and Jasmin Parkin and their three part harmonies are found throughout. Those smooth harmonies coupled with their quirky distinctive music deliver a handful of unique infectious tunes.

The first four tracks are all excellent. “Chasing It Down” kicks off the album. The song is a roller coaster ride of mixed tempos, and features a hook from Ryan’s distinctive falsetto that will bounce in your head for days.  The harmonies from the ladies and 70’s influenced organ riffs are unique and entertaining.  It is followed by “The Stand” the first single released by the band, which features a humorous Boy vs. Girl call-and-answer vocal performance from all three singers. The song is not great, but the lyrics are, as evidenced by Ryan explaining his vices; “There’s women on bikes or just women who straddle.”

“Baby Don’t Dance” is my favorite track off of the album. I reflexively cranked up the volume to this tune, and it became an instant favorite and is just a total blast to listen to. Fantastic vocals, great keys, cool bass and guitar. Simply described, it’s just a great party song, possibly one of my Top 10 for the year. You may find yourself reminiscing about classic B-52 dance tunes. “Original Sin” gets off to a mediocre musical start, but the vocals as usual are superb, with all three vocalists playing key roles.  It’s another one that you’ll find yourself singing along with.

Those first four tunes are all very strong.  Afterwards, some of the songs seem a bit over-produced, but do a good job highlighting the band’s intricate harmonies and clear musical talent, including bassist Jeremy Page and Ali Siadat on drums.

“Simply Simple” is a beautiful song with amazing lyrics from Ryan, clearly showcasing the high end of his great range.  Again the harmonies are dead on.  They remind me of the beautiful harmonies from the 90’s talented yet under-the-radar Voice of the Beehive. “Simply Simple” is immediately followed by “Problems,” which again accentuates the band’s incredible diversity.  This ditty hearkens back to the more rockabilly sound from their earlier recordings.  The guitar is great, Jeremy Page’s bass is superbly hypnotic, and it’s just a blast to listen to. “Oleander” is a big song that again features great vocals, and nice keys.

The remainder of the songs are enjoyable, if not unremarkable.  I feel as though the band was trying to highlight their musicianship, harmonies and diversity. Personally, I’d prefer a few more like “Baby Don’t Dance!”

Check out the album linked below from iTunes, where you can get the entire thing, plus a few bonus tracks for an excellent price of $7.99.

 

 

Collective Soul Rocks Hard Rock’s 40th Birthday Bash

I’ll admit; attending this show was a total afterthought.  I went to the Downtown Throwdown to see a few other personal favorites playing in celebration of Hard Rock Cafe’s 40th Birthday in downtown Orlando.  As I left the powerful Everclear show (read about it here) I swung by the Main Stage to check out the night’s closing band.

I was not a huge Collective Soul fan, but I was pretty damn impressed.  These guys from Atlanta are great musicians, they were having a great time and still performing at a high level. The heart and soul of this band are three original members, Ed and Dean Roland on Guitar and  Will Turpin on bass, as well as long-time lead guitarist Joel Kosche. Ed Roland handles all of the vocals and is a strong presence on stage.

The free outdoor show had a great turnout, and the long city block was packed for their 75 minute set. I missed the first few songs, as their set overlapped with Everclear’s, but still got to hear the quintet play a slew of their past #1 Rock hits, highlighted by “Gel,” “Where the River Flows,” “December,”” and “The World I Know.”

The highlight of the show was a song that I was unfamiliar with “Hollywood,” which is from the band’s 2007 album Afterwords.  The track is a great modern blend of their classic sound.  It was great, but made even better by interspersing a medly including Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” (complete with Ed taking the lead and channeling his best Angus Young duck walk),  some more AC/DC with “Dirty Deeds,” and then back into “Hollywood.”  Fun stuff. One concert goer uploaded a fun snippet of the song to Youtube. Take a peek.

Another cool observation: instead of stepping off the stage for an encore, Rowland shared with the crowd, “we just stand over there, make you cheer for awhile and come out and play our final cuts. Let’s just stay out here and play.”  And, they did just that, rocking the streets of Orlando for an additional 15 minutes. They closed the show with an extended version of “Shine.” Kosche tore through an energetic solo, and Ed Roland led the crowd in an impressive singalong. He was the consummate front man interacting with the crowd throughout and generally having a great time.  His voice was superb, as well.

This time I saw them by chance. Next time they’re in town, I’ll be back by choice!

Cretin

A peek at “Gel” and “The World I Know”

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