Lifehouse: Smoke & Mirrors


RIYL: Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray, Matchbox Twenty

When Lifehouse released their edgy debut No Name Face in 2000, their music was leaning more toward alternative and cool – because of the songs and the way they recorded them, but also because of how radio, to some degree, still drove record sales. But as bands like Lifehouse, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind keep aging, their music tends to organically soften. And as it does, they start to mesh on radio with artists such as, say, Edwin McCain or Huey Lewis. And while we all do age, there is something inherently disappointing in watching a band like Lifehouse start to listen too much to producers and radio programmers instead of making the cool music that they used to. Still, these guys can write hit songs in their sleep, and on Smoke & Mirrors, their fifth studio effort, Lifehouse has delivered yet another batch of ear candy that will have little girls swooning. For the rest of us, it’s a nice album, but nothing we haven’t heard before, from Lifehouse or any other bands in their alt/pop genre.

Songs like the upbeat “All In” and “Had Enough” are formulaic, but there are also some nice surprises. The first one is “Nerve Damage,” which is an edgy rocker that even has a bluesy guitar solo that is (gasp) almost 30 seconds long. Then there’s the best track of all, “From Where You Are,” a stunning acoustic ballad that shows singer Jason Wade hasn’t lost a single strand of vocal cord over the past decade. Someday Lifehouse may go back to having creative control. But even so, their music doesn’t exactly suck, and you can’t blame them for chasing a big paycheck. (Geffen 2010)

Lifehouse MySpace page

  

The Fray covers Kanye, hits a home run

The Fray

The other day I heard the Fray’s cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless” on the radio. It’s amazing. Not only is there a completely different rock element to the song, but Issac’s voice is brilliant. With the new, piano-driven arrangement, there’s much more depth, especially when listening to the lyrics.

The track was originally recorded as par of The Fray Live, which is available on iTunes, and was released to radio April 21. While the Fray may have committed a cardinal sin and covered a song that’s currently on the charts, they’ve managed to do so magnificently. There’s not another band I can think of who could have attempted the switch without faltering. It just goes to show that the Fray aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Make sure to check out the new single on iTunes, or you can listen to the song for free on YouTube.

  

Pat McGee: These Days (The Virginia Sessions)

Pat McGee has dropped the “Band” from his name and is going it alone, so to speak, in his solo debut and first effort for Rock Ridge Music, These Days (The Virginia Sessions). There is something breezy and easy to enjoy about McGee’s songs – they are delivered in a way reminiscent of ‘70s pop (think Jackson Browne) or akin to in more modern terms, Train or the Fray. McGee has a good, if not spectacular, voice; but as it’s always been, his songs are the driving force of his career, and he’s brought us another batch of good ones here. One of the only negative things you can say about Pat McGee is that much of the material, in melody, tone and arrangement, sounds very similar. But occasionally he steps things up, as he does on These Days with the stunning “Come Back Home,” a track originally written when McGee’s longtime drummer, John C. Williams, left the band, with the sentiment being how a military couple deals with separation during times of war. Sadly and somewhat symbolically, Williams’ younger brother lost his life in Iraq after McGee wrote the song last year. The Tonic-esque “The Hand That Holds You” is also a standout track. (Rock Ridge Music)

Pat McGee MySpace Page

  

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