Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Greg Koch Trio “From The Attic”

It is always a pleasure to discover outstanding new talent, even if that talent has been around a long time unbeknownst to me! Such is the case with guitarist extraordinaire Greg Koch. Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Koch’s guitar playing perhaps received the highest form of flattery after being noticed by another guitar virtuoso, Steve Vai. Consequently, Vai signed Koch to his Favored Nations label in 2001. “From The Attic” is Koch’s 12th release, and skillfully misses blues, rock, funk, jazz, and rockabilly. Rounding out his trio is bassist Tom Good and drummer Del Bennett, both of whom do a superb job to accompany the guitar phenom.

“Leg Up Foot Out” is a feisty way to start the record, coming at you with gusto and dazzling guitar licks that will drop your jaw to the floor. You’ll instantly hear that Koch sounds like a throatier David Lee Roth, which suits this song particularly well. The lyrics on “Leg Up Foot Up” pretty much sum up the main theme Koch likes to explore, which is righteously questioning the darker side of human nature that blocks the road to nirvana for all. But the magic in Koch’s playing is so immense that words are not always required to convey complex emotions – take the instrumental piece “Sleep Light” for example. The jazz infused blues just wraps around you like a warm blanket. I’m not much a fan of instrumentals, but what Koch can do is nothing short of amazing. “Picked On” is less enjoyable…more of an exercise in “let’s see how many notes I can play before my fingers fall off”. Consequently, the song offers little to anyone who isn’t impressed with speedy fretwork. He rebounds with “Trouble”, which is a track sure to please fans of Big Head Todd, and the sunny “Here We Go Again” sounds like it could have been lifted from Eric Johnson’s commercial masterpiece, “Ah Via Musicom”. “Agree To Disagree” is another standout, with timeless and sensible lyrics that should be required listening before any session of Congress. I also like the lyrics of “Happy Versus Right”, but the verses are quite redundant and uninteresting. The record closes strong with a driving roadhouse rocker that reminds us to “take the punch of life and spike it”.

With enough fiery licks and infectious grooves to make Eddie Van Halen envious, “From The Attic” is not to be missed. Greg Koch is essential for guitar geeks and highly recommended for everyone else. Adding “From The Attic” will instantly up the “cool” factor on your collection – you’ll rock and like it.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10

Greg Koch Trio on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Agree To Disagree”