Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: The Great Valley “Ruthless”

Pop rock
About a year ago, we were greatly impressed with the debut EP “Wrecking Ball” from The Great Valley (see review here). The EP was a teaser of what this band could be capable of, and my hopes were high that their first full-length release would be stellar. That release has finally arrived in the form of an 8 track record called “Ruthless”.

The Great Valley, a duo of Louis and Nick Matos, stands out from the overcrowded field of pop rockers – they have the expected universal lyrics, delivered by potent vocals backed by tasty harmonies, and lots of high energy guitar – but they have great instincts for writing memorable songs. The brothers Matos have a lot of youthful angst, but thankfully they realize that their message will be sustained if conveyed in the form of a strong hook. “Ruthless” was recorded in the boys’ basement, but don’t let that mislead you into thinking the production is anything but top notch.

The party kicks off with “Yesterday”, a fiery jam with tantalizing verses that groove up to an explosive chorus. “Dreamer” is even more commercial ready, and the skillful chord changes show off the band’s innovative songwriting. On “Dirty Work”, the boys fill the room with an avalanche of sound, but they don’t forget to build this symphony of distorted guitars and harmonic shouts around a slick melody. “Me, Myself, and Time” is another winner – the punchy guitars really drive the rhythm along in this one and you’ll be pumping your fist during the chorus. “Sweeter Side of Life” is a song we all sing from time to time during our search for sweeter times that we hope to taste one day – not quite a ballad, but the closest the guys come to slowing down on this high octane release. The record ends with another terrific anthem in “Like We Do”.

If there is anything to complain about it’s that “Ruthless” is too short – two or three more songs would have made it feel more like a record than a lengthy EP. Additionally, many of these songs are polluted with overused profanity, leaving me to wonder if they have the smarts to devise more edifying and creative ways to express their angst. But don’t let these minor issues stop you from checking this band out today. Don’t overlook The Great Valley if you like Simple Plan, Jimmy Eat World, or Weezer. Also, their special acoustic “Stripped” EP is still available for free – you can get it here. “Ruthless” is available now.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8

The Great Valley on MySpace. Facebook.

Listen to “Dreamer”