Miggs: Wide Awake

RIYL: Butch Walker, Matthew Good, Bon Jovi

Apparently Don Miggs has been making music and touring for several years, but as the bio for Miggs’ eponymous trio proclaims, they may be one of the “best bands you’ve never heard of.”  That’s a blessing and a curse, yet in today’s indie music scene, maybe more of a blessing if you can be heard.  Indie rock/pop label Rock Ridge was impressed enough with Miggs’ accessible, hard-edged alternative pop.  Miggs’ latest, Wide Awake, is 12 songs that ride as a roller coaster might – from addictive anthems like “Let the Games Begin” and the title track to Butch Walker-esque ditties like “Fire” and “Sincerity,” to balls-out rockers such as “Enemy,” with a positively stunning keyboard-driven ballad, “Crawl Inside,” to close out the set.  Miggs the vocalist sounds at various times like Jon Bon Jovi, Walker and Canadian rocker Matthew Good, and those are all guys with pipes.  Add in the production expertise of Ken Lewis (Fall Out Boy, Kanye West) and the rough edges of the band are captured on this release, yet effectively smoothed out as well. Intrigued?  You should be, because this is easily one of the best albums of 2010 that you….wait for it…..have not heard yet.  So do yourself a favor and go hear these guys.  (Rock Ridge 2010)

Miggs’ website: www.miggsmusic.com


Ingram Hill: Look Your Best

RIYL: Better Than Ezra, Collective Soul, Hootie and the Blowfish

True to form, Memphis rock band Ingram Hill has returned with their third release, Look Your Best.  The group’s debut, June Picture Show, and the follow-up, Cold in California, were released on Hollywood Records in 2004 and 2007, respectively, so this 2010 release (on Rock Ridge Music) is in line with the band’s every-three-years format. And, well, if you’re a fan of Ingram Hill, Look Your Best is pretty much a continuation of their previous work – especially to the debut, since they enlisted Rick Beato to produce once more.  If you’re looking for the next cool thing, you won’t find it here. Instead, Ingram Hill write real songs with real hooks that just have this way of making you feel good – as if you’re in a nostalgia warp of sorts to the bands mentioned above; but also the proximity of the band to Nashville has helped front man Justin Moore and company to continually hone his songwriting craft. 

The key to Ingram Hill, in addition to being a great live band, is the fact that they continue to churn out songs with catchy melodies and huge chorus hooks – ear candy, if you will – and Look Your Best is more of that same formula.  The opener “Broken Lover” is a bit too formulaic, but as you delve deeper into this set, you’ll unearth some gems like the power ballads “Hey Girl,” and “Wish You’d Say,” and the mid-tempo “Come Around.”  Really, any of these could be hits on country radio if things don’t pan out with Ingram Hill.  But sure as it’s hot and sweaty in Memphis, fans of the band aren’t hoping for that anytime soon.  (Rock Ridge 2010)

Ingram Hill MySpace page


Benjy Davis Project: Lost Souls Like Us

RIYL: Pat McGee Band, Collective Soul, Sister Hazel

Benjy Davis Project is the quintessential college band: they have a jangly jam band sound, but don’t jam a lot. Rather, front man Davis writes upbeat, melodic songs that are perfect for tapping your foot, singing along, and of course, drinking beer and partying to. BDP’s new album, their fourth, Lost Souls Like Us, is hip enough to appeal to the college frat crowd, yet has two features that make it attractive to the AAA market: Davis’ appealing tenor (which sounds a lot like Mat Kearney), and also his some lyrical depth. Witness this snippet from the opening track, “Mississippi”: “I think you’re really pretty / And that’s all I wanna say / Did you miss me/Did you miss me Mississippi / Would you kiss me if I stayed?” Of course, you can’t not appeal to the college crowd with catchy anthems like “Get High.” But Davis and company aren’t content to give you a few good songs. Sure, Lost Souls Like Us has a lot of sameness about it, but it’s a good sameness. In addition to the tracks already mentioned, other standouts are the G. Love-ish “Send Your Love Down” and “Light of Other Days,” which uses some super-cool, crunchy ‘80’s guitar tones and has some of the best harmonies on the record. If you like to have a good time, and like Southern-tinged party rock, you owe it to yourself to get familiar with Benjy Davis Project. (Rock Ridge Music 2010)

Benjy Davis Project MySpace Page


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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