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Music Review: Ligion – On the Way

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It is no secret that a band who chooses to wear its rock and roller preference like tight leather pants in Nashville, has to work a little harder, tour a little farther, and build just the right momentum to make a name for themselves. Poised as the next up-and-coming rock group to emerge from the belly of the country music spewing beast; Ligion has their work cut out for them.

Despite the fact lead singer and band namesake, Ligion, bares a slight resemblance to Adam Levine of Maroon 5, their sound is far from pop rock. With a dedicated following of fans magnetized to the edgy, low-slung guitar sound and soulful deliverance, they have paved their way for a sovereign rise to the top. At the exact moment they were overdue for some recognition, Ligion picked up support from Nashville radio station 102.9 The Buzz. And then took the station by force.

Ligion is preparing to release its first album, and I was lucky enough to get a taste of their rich melodies on their debut advance EP, On the Way.  As you play through the album, each song has a way of getting in your head and staying there. The title track “On the Way”, leaves a great first impression with straightforward lyrics and an infectious bass line that wraps itself around the melody. The listener is transported to a crowded venue, bursting at the seams with pogo dancing and pulsing lights. I can tell without knowing, these guys would make for a kick-ass live performance.

The sampling on this release is reminiscent of Queensryche’s 1988 rock opera extravaganza, Operation: Mindcrime. Skillfully produced by Grammy-winning producer, Greg Ladanyi, each single digs deeper than the last, all the while maintaining a cohesive and distinct direction. It’s an added bonus that each single was written by front man Lig and guitarist June, and speaks highly of the raw talent they bring to the table. The album bears their signature style throughout; the artful guidance of Ladanyi ties it up in a mind blowing package that all involved can be proud of.

The urgent, slightly longing “Get Over Me” captures the essence of the band's musical inclinations. The heartfelt, almost manic energy magnifies Lig’s powerful vocal range and panache, and leaves me wondering if there are some repressed stalking experiences in their past. They slow it down a bit on “Pins and Needles”, revealing a decidedly softer revelry, infused with tight guitar licks and soothing verse.

There is only one minor detail that has been eating at me since I had On the Way in hand, and that is the graphic depiction of the bands name. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the letter ‘O’ curves back to form what appears to be a letter ‘P’, so each time I viewed the website or the cover, I read Ligpin instead of Ligion, through a trick of the eye.  Or it could be my astygmatism. Perhaps this is a symbol of some sort that has followed the band, and therefore holds some significance. If not, plans should be put in place to rework the logo.

Regardless, this five-piece rock band has permeated Nashville’s country music stronghold and have the potential to turn the current buzz in to a deafening throng of rock and roll followers.  Their new CD, External Affairs, will be available March 20, 2007 on Bellum/Maple Jam.

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About Kathy Scovill