Volume 91, Issue 71
Wednesday, February 4, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Anyone who mourns the death of good old '80s rock can now smile. Second Wind has everything an '80s rock band needs.
There are the chesty tenor lead vocals (think Scott Weiland in The Second Album), courtesy of lead vocalist Glenn Domina. There are the echoing back-up vocals in harmony. Drummer Ken Goodwin provides an extremely regular rock beat and "Big" Dave Wallace gives us an equally regular baseline. And then there are those little electric guitar touches that have lost popularity in the '90s. Plus, there are three guitars besides the main guitarist, John Delo, keyboardist Dave O'Brien and Domina both do a little strumming.
They even have the '80s lyrics down too, bad grammar and all. A good example, from "Lost at Sea" is "Where's your memories/Are we all lost in space,/A three-day cruise; nothin' to lose." All lyrics are included with the CD, along with commentary on each track. For example, after the song "Sit You Down," is written the song "is in the key of F and a quarter because we didn't know that the battery was weak on the tuner during the bass session."
Some of the songs are almost catchy. On the other hand, from a '90s perspective, the cheese content is pretty high. Basically, stick a bunch of randomly chosen '80s rock tracks (e.g. Scorpions, Bon Jovi, even the Police) in the blender, mix well, spit it out again and you've got Second Wind.
Unfortunately, while their music is not bad, it's extremely generic. It seriously lacks any originality that might distinguish them from any other '80s rock band. Then again, if you're into '80s rock, is this really a bad thing?
Refuel's new album, Touch, offers its listeners a musically solid grunge record. The Quebec band skillfully produce a few good tracks thanks to their talent in writing strong melodies. Some songs are so catchy that the listener will be left humming the chorus well after the album has finished playing.
The main theme of Touch revolves around the turbulence of modern-day boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. For instance, the title song delves into the situation of a boyfriend confronting his lover about her past sexual abuse. A brave subject for a band, however, Refuel does not quite pull it off. Because of the weakness of the lyrics "you don't want to be touched, cause your daddy did it too much" the song does not come close to capturing the sincerity it potentially possesses and deserves.
Lyrics become even more peculiar in the song "Killing Words." Referring to an ex-girlfriend, Reno rants "I'll be there to throw you out, I'll be there to blow you away, no mercy." A rather disturbing line, particularly when one remembers that only a few songs prior, Reno sang about comforting his girlfriend over sexual abuse.
Ultimately however, the listener can not deny the fact that musically this album is surprisingly strong. Although Touch has nothing particularly new or fresh to offer in the way of sound, it can not be denied that the majority of songs are catchy and contain good grooves throughout. The end result is an enjoyable grunge-oriented album that is worth giving a chance.
Claymen's self-titled debut indie album is a mixture of reggae, celtic and pop music all rolled into one. This trio from Toronto wears its influences on its sleeve, as many of the album's tracks have a Great Big Sea/Rusted Root feel to them.
The Claymen try to incorporate many unconventional musical instruments to create a distinct sound. They include tribal chants on the album's first track, "The Vineyard" and use shakers and a school choir on the song "Mr. Me." These tricks work for these two songs, but the rest of the album's 11 tracks truly lack a distinct sound.
Although the music on the album is very upbeat, lyrically Claymen is a very dark album. Songs such as "What is Their Reward" and "Johan Heyes" deal with issues of war and what is left for those who risked their lives fighting for the freedom of others. Continuing in the same depressing tone, songs such as "Desert (in a grain of sand)," "Run After Me" and "Mr. Me" deal with abuse and loneliness.
All in all, Claymen is a pretty solid indie debut. Its upbeat music and introspective lyrics provide the listener with the comfort of listening to something that sounds familiar. It'll be interesting to see if, in the future, Claymen can stray from their influences and create their own distinct sound.
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