Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...
The Gracious Few “The Gracious Few”
Mix three parts Live (bassist, drummer, guitarist) and two parts Candlebox (vocals and guitarist) and you get The Gracious Few. The sound is pretty much what you would expect, but thanks in no small part to vocalist Kevin Martin, The Gracious Few sound pretty much like Candlebox. One is tempted to retort that The Gracious Few sound like Live without vocalist Ed Kowalczyk (his solo effort is reviewed here by the way), but that is inaccurate because Live could write good songs that generally did not bore you to tears. I was really looking forward to this collaboration, but there is little here to fuel any fire. The guys are trying to modernize the sounds of their 70s rock heroes but the results are anything but gracious, with wasted riffs and vocal talent rarely congregating around an engaging hook. The exceptions to this tragedy include “Sing” and “The Rest Of You”.
Gin Blossoms “No Chocolate Cake”
Everyone’s favorite pop rock band from the 90s returns once again with “No Chocolate Cake” – the follow up to the acclaimed comeback record “Major Lodge Victory” from 2006. The title “No Chocolate Cake” might seem to suggest this record is not a decent dessert to follow "Major Lodge Victory" – but this band can have its cake and eat it too. Their latest contains 11 more high-calorie tunes packing plenty of sugary melodies and sweet sentiments. There’s no new territory explored here, save the horn-laden “Dead Or Alive On the 405”, but to venture into new ground for a band like this would be a slap in the face to their fanbase. So the Gin Blossoms deliver what they do best. Standouts include driving rockers like “Don't Change For Me”, the built-for-radio single, “Miss Disarray”, and the acoustic-driven “Wave Bye Bye”. But don’t underestimate the pull of their mellow side, especially the breezy “I Don't Want To Lose You Now”, “Something Real”, and their best ballad in a long time, “If You'll Be Mine”. With a sagging middle bringing the record down a bit, I’m not sure it will be the first Gin Blossoms record I reach for when the mood strikes…but it is a worthy addition to their catalogue.
I don't know how long it will last, but you can download the new Gin Blossoms album in its entirety for only $3.99 at Amazon - well worth it! Click here.