Volume 94, Issue 28

Thursday, October 19, 2000


A Conversation With...Jayson McDonald

Name's Ryan, not Bryan!

Name's Ryan, not Bryan!

The Harsh Light Of Day
Hollywood Records

If the pop-rock band Fastball were fishermen, their latest album would be one of the fullest tackleboxes on the lake.

The melodic trio are back with their hook-filled third album, The Harsh Light of Day. Following the same formula of earlier hits, the first single "You're an Ocean" is so catchy, it's almost addictive. The song's Beatle-esque quality is highlighted by the energetic piano stylings of special guest Billy Preston (who, coincidentally was the "fifth Beatle" during the Let It Be sessions).

Other gems on the album include "Morning Star," an upbeat '60s-style guitar rocker which picks you up and throws you into the waves of good times and "Time," a crowd pleaser that blends infectious chord progressions and high octane playing.

As upbeat as these songs are, nothing on The Harsh Light of Day is new. Each of the tracks is a complex pop-rock song, with undertones borrowed from the '60s, subtly creating hooks, making the record flow like a playful romp through radio-land.

Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga and Joey Shuffield weave their musicianship together to create a rich tapestry, leaving listeners satisfied instead of bored. For those looking for fun, frolicking music, they would be well advised to take the plunge with Fastball and reel in The Harsh Light of Day.

– Jamie Windover

Various Artists
Juicy Beats Volume 3
Hi-Bias Records

The third installment of the Juicy Beats dance compilation series is packed with various extended dance mixes. Unfortunately, Juicy Beats excludes every other music lover from joining the groove.

It's even hard to say whether the biggest dance music lover will give this CD a complete run through. It falls short, largely because of the vocalists featured on the album. The artists completely lack the vocal range needed to sustain the pulsing tracks.

Good lyrics sung by powerful voices could have meant the difference between disaster and success for this record. Originality can't even be found in the beats themselves. The tracks begins to sound annoyingly similar after the four tracks. Moreover, the remixes extended to extremes, the songs never seem to end.

The CD begins with Madison Avenue's popular dance hit "Don't Call Me Baby," but stands out only because of its commercial success. The only authentic voice comes from the legendary Bob Marley, whose classic sound makes "Rainbow Country" a worthwhile listen. "Living in a Disco," by Eyes Cream, teases you with possibility before being drowned out by annoying, electronically enhanced vocals.

The songs the deejays had hoped to make unique and extra special, are destroyed by extending and remixing overkill. It's an honest effort, but the CD fails to offer music lovers anything original to enjoy.

–Jenny Benincasa

Ryan Adams
Bloodshot Records

Heartbreaker, the solo debut by Whiskeytown frontman Ryan Adams, evokes similarities to the musical and lyrical prowesses of Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons and Steve Earle. Adams explores the gut emotions of heartbreak with a voice so honest listeners cannot help but buy into the simple phrases he sings.

On the track, "To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high)," Adams proves he is one of the most talented up-and-coming songwriters in any genre of the music industry today. Adams clearly demonstrates the rare gift of being able to convey base emotions, without coming off sounding empty. The gentle cigarette-stained melodies convey a feeling that grows with each listen.

With songs like the slower "My Winding Wheel," the tempo building "Come Pick Me Up" or the full out rockabilly of "Shakedown on 9th Street," Heartbreaker refuses to remain static, without pushing to extremes. Unlike Adams' work with Whiskeytown, Heartbreaker is a cohesive album that works from start to finish. The highlights are plentiful and increase with repeated listens. His songs don't demand attention, they earn it.

Adams' future looks bright and his best work could very well be ahead. For now, a heartbreak has never sounded so good.

–Zach Peterson

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