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Music Reviews: The Contribution, Keel, All Day Sucker, and Fight the Quiet

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It's a relatively mellow music week. Well, except for a kicker of an album from a band that should have been bigger in their prime.

The Contribution: Which Way World

This is a supergroup of sorts, well at least according to the PR for the band. It's made up of guys from bands I honestly never really heard of, including the String Cheese Incident. Not that it matters one bit, this is some great rock any way you might slice it. It's mellow at times and drifts into country territory on songs like “Time Was Only Yesterday” or even 70s mellow rock (without the schmaltz).

This is a great album from start to finish for times when you want to mellow out and relax. The bunch of guys appearing here clearly wanted to make something special for their time together. This has a serious West Coast vibe to it, with smatterings of honky tonk and Cajun music tossed in for good measure. I found a bit of a Warren Zevon vibe on these tracks as well, something introspective and pondering. Then they drift into something you could imagine on a Quireboys CD, like “Fear of Nothing.”

This may be a supergroup of bands that you never heard of, but super this album certain is ultimately. It's rare that as a reviewer you get something this good that you never caught wind of before. If you are looking for a release outside your normal comfort zone then give this CD a try. Ultimately good rock like this that is as consistent track to track is rare.

Keel: Streets of Rock & Roll

A band that lots of us loved back in the 80s, but who never really got their due. When grunge hit, lead man re-invented himself as Ronnie Keel in Nashville and continued his songwriting. Now Keel is back with a great album: one of their best and most consistent. From the lead, title track through to the end, this is a band that is not resting on their laurels, but neither are they trying to be something they aren’t. The lead track is everything you would expect from this sort of hard rock with all its anthem-like qualities.

Now signed to Frontiers, they have released one of the best “come-back” albums. More talented that many of the bands that made it back then, but never quite in the top flight of hard rock, they recently re-released their best known album, re-mastered, The Right to Rock. It will probably depress a few hard rockers to realize that was released all of 25 years ago. Their first two albums were produced by none other than Gene Simmons, of Kiss fame, who backed them heavily.

It's great to see an 80s hard-rock band return with a damn good album rather than half-arsing it for an excuse to tour. If you were ever a fan of Keel, check this out, you will enjoy it start to finish.

All Day Sucker: The Big Pretend

Visions of Freddie Mercury’s solo album filled my head when I heard the name of this CD. It's nothing like the epic operatic self-indulgent release called the big pretender. This is far more a West coast sound of an album. Formerly called The Impostors, the duo, saw their music show up on TV on show like The Hills, Real World, Swingtown, Laguna Beach, and Breaking Bonaduce. The vocalist, Morty Coyle, also has a sideline as DJ, spinning discs for all kinds of Hollywood glitterati. They also backed Warron Zevon’s son Jordan, on his debut release.

So they have got the curriculum vitae, so what does this sound like? Well its exactly what you would expect from tracks that would be beloved by TV producers. There is nothing on here too intrusive but it’s a full of decent tunes that no one will object to. It's hip and trendy rock that the cool scene will love. Not exactly the most rocking stuff you can imagine, but pleasant. This is not exactly as bland as MOR, but it's pretty close. You won’t shut it off or change the station, but it won’t enthuse you either. If you like TV and movie soundtracks then check this out.

Various: Live at Knebworth

As with many of these sort of releases it pretty much a mix bag of performances. However rock fans will be pleased to know that its far more rock than pop. A two-CD compilation of some of the tops acts to play the famous festival in 1990, there is quite a bit to chew on. It ranges from the fairly lame in the form of Elton John to a couple of classics from Pink Floyd, “Comfortably Numb” and “Run like Hell’

Along the way there are a couple of tracks from Tears for Fears including their big hit “Everybody wants to Rule World” through some lameness in the form of Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney. This is together with one of the Phil Collins least appealing solo songs “Sussudio.” That said you get a bunch of good stuff from Genesis, Status Quo, Eric Clapton and Robert Plant solo. There is nothing terribly awful on here so you won’t be grasping for the forward button. This is decent set of tracks, with some curious choices from artists, as is always the case.

Overall like any compilation you get the dross with the good. As a celebration of the Knebworth festival it is pretty good. Not sure that anyone who has not attended would find any worth in this release, unless they are a completist for the bands listed.

Fight the Quiet: Let Me In

This is a modern rock band that manages to hint at influences other than the cliché like Jimmy Eat World and ****out Boy. There is a poppy jaunty feel about the tracks on here that will please the market that likes that sort of thing. Nothing that would necessarily scare any of the teenage fans that this groups seem to covet. However, there is a touch of something of edgier here if only U2. There is a Beatlesy feel to a bit of it as well.

There is no doubt these guys have a talent to write catchy material. If there is any criticism, it is that none of it really sticks. It's rather more like that type of pop rock that goes in one ear and out the other. You would recognize it, if you hear it again but it doesn’t make that much of a lasting impression. The production is great and everything is as tight as you would expect from something produced by Stephen Short.

To the veteran ear you would probably want a bit more substance. Then again the genre in which they wish to tread doesn’t care much for that. I am not sure if these guys are heading anywhere impressive, but they certainly show potential here.

That is your poppy collection for this week. I can assure you next week we shall return to some heaviness. Stay safe and rocking where ever you might be.

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