David Nail: I’m About to Come Alive

RIYL: Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney, Train

That cha-ching sound you just heard was the royalty cash register for another mainstream pop/rock songwriter, as a country music artist has not just cut a song by the band Train, but made it the title track for his MCA Nashville debut. The artist is David Nail, and while Nail has endured ups and downs and at least one failed move to Nashville, the story has a happy ending, or at least a happy middle upon the release of I’m About to Come Alive, which might also be symbolic for the young artist. Nail has co-written about half the material here, and it might be curious that he’d go with a full blown cover song as his title track, but if you follow Train at all, you know it’s one of their best and most heartfelt songs. And it comes a couple years after Gary Allan had success with Vertical Horizon’s “Best I Ever Had.” But back to Nail, because he and producer Frank Liddell have managed to put a set of tunes together that is as good or better than anything Nashville has produced in the past decade. And the same can be said for Nail’s powerful vocal ability. Of course the title track is stellar, but there are some other beauties on here, especially “Red Light” and the Garth Brooks-ish “Looking for a Good Time,” the latter of which features some pretty guitar work. (MCA Nashville)

David Nail MySpace page


Vertical Horizon: Burning the Days

“I’m done with the middle ground,” moans lead singer Matt Scannell on the third track of Vertical Horizon’s latest album, but nothing could be further from the truth. Burning the Days is, in fact, the most relentlessly, punishingly middle of the road record you’ll have the displeasure of hearing all year, a solid block of dull beige mid-tempo ballads that will leave all but the most rock-allergic listeners resorting to desperate measures – such as punching one’s self in the throat, for example – to break up the monotony. Whoever engineered or mastered it deserves a Grammy simply for staying awake; conversely, Rush’s Neil Peart – who plays drums on three tracks and wrote lyrics for the album closer, “Even Now” – is old and successful enough to know better, and should be severely punished for encouraging this kind of senseless, yawning musical horror. Scannell has always had a weakness for adult contemporary mush, but Burning the Days represents a new, nougaty soft frontier for his music; it’s an experiment in blandness that makes MOR dozers such as Chicago’s XXX sound like Sgt. Pepper’s-level works of genius. The bitterest shame of the whole thing is that Vertical Horizon is on its own label again, free from corporate interference, and could have chosen this moment to make a strong artistic statement. For what few hardcore fans the band has left, this might be worth your time and money, but for anyone else, it’s positively deadly. (Outfall 2009)

Vertical Horizon MySpace page


This World Fair: This World Fair

It appears the next incarnation of Aware Records is here, in the form of Los Angeles-based Ping Pong Music. Ping Pong manages Epic Records’ Augustana, and they are bringing us the next wave of very talented baby bands such as This World Fair, the London, and Windsor Drive. The formula of Ping Pong’s bands is similar to Aware, which launched the careers of artists like Train, Vertical Horizon and John Mayer. And that formula is almost a no-brainer – finding talented acts with hooky, melodic songs – but it’s in stark contrast to today’s hipster-driven music industry that mostly relies on gimmicks and fabricated street cred meters. Still, there is always a demand for great bands like This World Fair, and their debut album is an absolute sonic gift to those who dig the likes of Augustana, Better Than Ezra or Keane. Chris Kalgren fronts the band with a smooth tenor that effectively delivers a balance of driving rockers such as “Can’t Stop Falling” and “Drama,” or dreamy tracks like “This is All.” But among ten tracks that are quite frankly straight A’s, This World Fair scores an A+ with the pulsing, stunning piano-driven “Seven Letters.” Despite where the music industry is headed, there is no good reason why This World Fair shouldn’t be as successful as the rest of the world will allow them to be. (Ping Pong Music)

This World Fair MySpace Page


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