Freedy Johnston: Rain on the City

RIYL: Better Than Ezra, Counting Crows, David Mead

Freedy Johnston has been riding a small wave stemming from his mid-90’s alt-pop/modern rock hit “Bad Reputation,” from his major label debut This Perfect World. At the time, Johnston’s music could be found alongside the likes of the Gin Blossoms, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Better Than Ezra in retail stores and radio, and it fit nicely. That also was a high point for Johnston, because he continued to release a few more albums on Elektra, but never quite matched the magic of This Perfect World. The good news for his fans, though, is that Johnston has continued to make music and tour – and 2009 found him back with his original label, independent Bar/None, to release Rain on the City, Johnston’s first album of new original material in eight years. On this effort, Johnston still has hints of what made him popular a decade and a half ago, but the songs are a notch below that material, and his voice is a tad scratchier and more weathered. That isn’t to say this is bad stuff; it’s nice, and the title of the album is perfect for some of what you might call Johnston’s “rainy day” mood music – especially on the title track, as well as on “Lonely Penny” and “The Devil Raises His Own.” He also rocks a bit on the too-truthful “Don’t Fall in Love with a Lonely Girl” and offers up his take on lounge music with “The Kind of Love We’re In.” Rain on the City is a good album by anyone’s standards – but while Freedy Johnston has certainly earned the right to make his living making music, his days of making magic may be a decade or so behind him. (Bar/None 2010)

Freedy Johnston MySpace Page


Dexter Freebish: The Best of (The Other Side)

Dexter Freebish was one of those dot com-era bands that bridged a gap between alt-pop powerhouses that were slowly fading (think Toad the Wet Sprocket or Hootie) and those that were embracing their independence like never before (The Clarks, Better Than Ezra). There simply isn’t ever a place on any musical timeline where good, melodic pop/rock doesn’t have a place, and this five-piece Texas band is proof of that. Dexter Freebish released two albums beginning with 2000’s A Life of Saturdays, which included their John Lennon Songwriting Contest entry, “Leaving Town.” But after breaking up in 2005, lead singer Kyle (who mysteriously has no last name) and the rest of the band got back together for some shows, and found out there is still a market for their catchy fare. EA Sports, along with a publishing arm of Nettwerk Music, decided to release this greatest hits collection, The Best Of (The Other Side), including four new tracks, and history is being made before your very eyes, or something. The big “hits” are all here, including “Leaving Town,” “Prozak” (which actually WON the John Lennon contest) and “Higher,” and some of the newer stuff is pretty decent, in particular the stunning piano ballad “Walk on Water.” For the most part, Dexter Freebish is a decent band with nice, hooky songs, but they aren’t going to keep tastemakers up at night figuring out who heard them first. (LABEL: Electronic Arts)

Dexter Freebish MySpace Page