Sons of Sylvia: Revelation


RIYL: Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Rascal Flatts

Don’t blame brother trio Sons of Sylvia if they are a bit pigeon-holed into the country music genre, because that’s not what they are. Sure, the band won a talent competition that led to a deal with 19 Recordings, and one of the band members was a backup singer in Carrie Underwood’s band, but their debut, Revelation, is no more country than Bon Jovi or Bret Michaels. Oh wait….yeah, there is much crossover these days. Let’s just say this is a rock album with moments of twang and leave it at that. And as debut albums go, this is a pretty strong set. The trio is led by singer Ashley Clark and the trio writes together with the help of folks like OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, who happens to be their cousin. And while Ashley has a strong voice, one of the drawbacks is that he tries too hard to show it off. The album opens with “John Wayne,” and this is the country rock song Bon Jovi couldn’t seem to write, but with too many vocal acrobatics a la Adam Lambert. But it’s a good one, as are most of the tracks on here. “Love Left to Lose” is a powerful gang-vocal anthem, “50 Ways” could find its way onto an Aerosmith album, and the current single, “I’ll Know You,” is pure pop power ballad. But the best track of all is “Song of Solomon,” a slowly building gem in which the vocal acrobatics are more appropriate. All in all this is a solid debut and this is a band that could have an extremely bright future. (19 Recordings/Interscope)

Sons of Sylvia MySpace Page

  

Bo Bice: 3


RIYL: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Marc Broussard

Bo Bice will forever be the guy who finished second to Carrie Underwood on Season 4 of “American Idol.” Many were outraged, thinking Bice had the goods and delivered the performances in the finale to merit winning it all. However, America voted for Underwood and the rest is history. It appears now that it was probably the correct long-haul decision, but that doesn’t mean Bice hasn’t made a nice career for himself. Now he’s back with his third effort, aptly titled 3, which is his debut on Saguaro Records, home to the likes of Patty Loveless and Lonestar. If you like straight-ahead country fried Southern rock, there isn’t much you won’t like about 3. It’s ten songs of shuffling, bluesy goodness, right from the first notes and horn hits of “Keep on Rollin’,” to the honky tonk, riff-infused “Coming Back Home” to the pretty balladry of “Wild Roses.” But there are a few tinges of mediocrity, too, most notably “Good Hearted Woman,” on which Bice seems to hover in a register too low for his vocal range; and “Long Road Back,” which is catchy enough but seems to drone on a bit. Still, Bo Bice keeps on rolling, and his songwriting seems to improve with each effort. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t want Underwood’s money, but…(Saguaro Records 2010)

Bo Bice MySpace page

  

Now That’s What I Call Country

Aside from the pop/punk genre, there really isn’t a more tired style of music than “new country,” a.k.a. the kind of country music that is coming out of Nashville’s Music Row these days, which is more like classic pop with steel guitars, and lyrics that try to make you remember your youth or complain about your lot in life today. This is opposed to the country music of your parents and grandparents, which wasn’t nearly as forced or made to fit into a pattern musically or lyrically. So anyone with a musical brain is likely going to be insulted if someone tries to convince them to like this stuff. Enter Now That’s What I Call Country, a compilation of some of the biggest chart-toppers of the past year or so. For fans of new country, it’s not really any different than what’s been beaten to death on your favorite radio station. For the rest of us, it’s mostly the same bland fare that gives us headaches—the nasally Carrie Underwood (“All-American Girl”), Lady Antebellum’s “Love Don’t Live Here;” a song with the same chord progression and melody as about 300 other songs you’ve heard in this genre alone. Ditto for Brad Paisley’s “Letter To Me” and Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” — seriously, in any other genre those two guys would be bagging groceries. We’d be remiss, of course, if we didn’t point out some of the bright spots here, such as Keith Urban, who actually makes his songs compelling on “Everybody” (maybe it’s because he can actually sing); and George Strait’s “I Saw God Today,” a stunning number about the beauty of becoming a father that any parent can relate to. At some point, someone is going to step in and shake this genre up, but not until advertisers stop ruling terrestrial radio. (LABEL: UMG Recordings)

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