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


OneRepublic: Waking Up

RIYL: Coldplay, U2, Greg Laswell

OneRepublic’s 2008 debut was full of the kind of middle-of-the-road, calculatedly inoffensive pop that’s groomed for multiplatinum success – and it found that success, selling nearly a million copies and spinning off a Top Five single in the Timbaland-assisted “Apologize.” You’d think finding its commercial stride so soon would be the only excuse a band would need to churn out a carbon copy of its debut, but give OneRepublic credit: Album Number Two, Waking Up, actually represents a surprising step forward for a band that, just a year ago, gave no indication it was even ready to learn how to crawl. Make no mistake, the band’s stock in trade remains slick, pointedly proficient pop – but the band has gotten much better at carving canyon-sized hooks out of the barren bedrock of its influences.

onerepublic edit

There isn’t a single moment on the album that could be described as unusual or surprising – heck, maybe not even strictly interesting – and that’s exactly what makes it such an easy listen. This type of music derives its pleasure from smart adherence to pop formula, and OneRepublic follows it brilliantly; what it lacks in true creativity, it makes up in the strict discipline of knowing how to get from Point A to Point B – carrying a 500-pound chorus or three – without getting lost or messy along the way. Expecting great things from OneRepublic is probably unfair. But big things? You’re listening to ‘em. (Interscope/Mosley 2009)

OneRepublic MySpace page


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