Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Music Wednesday ...

Last month, at my work reunion, Warwick told about his latest web venture, amazing-tunes.com. When he returned to his part of the world, we traded e-mails and he suggested that I should start reviewing music for the site. I was flattered, and told him I'd be happy to, if he thought I had any business reviewing artists. I mean, I know what I like, but I'm not a trained musician. I don't think the lessons I took when I was in grade school really count for much these days.

This morning, I fired up e-mail and I had a note from Woody, a guitar player for the band Circuit. Turns out, he's been reading my blog for a while and sent me a link to their online press kit with mp3s. He asked me to let him know what I thought.

Well, that's awfully nice, isn't it? I suppose on the heels of yesterday's gush-fest over Iva, he thought it might be the right time to step out of the shadows and introduce himself.

I'm glad he did.

It amazes me when I hear from someone who reads my blog. Honestly, it doesn't really dawn on me that anyone beyond my little group of known readers is checking it out, but it's out there for anyone to read, and apparently, some people do.

The first thing I thought was, "Don't I already know about this band?" Circuit sounded familiar to me. I checked Amazon.com. Nope, not the band I'm thinking of. I surfed on over to Circuit's site and clicked on the audio button to start streaming tunes.

First up, "Deficiency." Wow. That's some in-your-face guitar first thing in the morning! And as I was listening, I thought, "They remind me of Nickelback." When I went back to the band's audio page to click the next track, I laughed. In the mini-bio, it says, "The record was produced by Dale Penner (Nickelback)." Well, there you go.

If you're currently saying to yourself, "Yeah, I don't like Nickelback," and you're therefore discinclined to check out this band, I say to you, "Whoa, grab some chair there, bub." Because next up was "Helen of Troy," a plaintive ballad that starts out with an acoustic guitar backed with strings. Pretty. The tune gets going, but it's a nice vocal showcase, too.

"Better Part of Me" surprised me with its strings and prominent piano. "Just Like Heaven" has a deceptively subtle intro, but it's not a subtle song. "Broken Window" took me back to the Nickelback-inspired sound. And "Complicated," the last track, had me wondering again just who Michael James sounds like. (I'm listening to the Nickelback I have in my iTunes and James and Chad Kroeger share some similarities, but that's not who I'm thinking of. James' voice reminds me of someone else.)

Which made me start thinking about rock and what a challenge it must be for artists to put their own stamp on that sound. When I first heard Creed, I thought I was hearing Pearl Jam. Now, when I heard Creed, I know I'm hearing Creed, but at first blush, they didn't sound distinctly different. And in this day and age of 30-second sound samples on iTunes or Amazon, bands don't have a lot of time to hook a listener. (Which is why the site Circuit is hooked up with is groovy.)

Circuit's album, ""Eau De Humanity," was released earlier this year. I like it. It's not a thrashy guitar album. There's a sophistication about it, both from the production values (it sounds fabulous) and the range of songs. Check 'em out. The album is available on iTunes and cdUniverse (and elsewhere, I'm guessing).

I'm not planning on making this a blog about music reviews, but this opportunity presented itself, and I dig this band. And even more, I admire the hell out of anyone out there livin' the dream. There are countless would-be bands out there with their dreams of rock-star glory, but how many of them ever get beyond their basements and wishing? Circuit's making it happen. And I'm happy, in my very small way, to help.

So, Woody? This is what I think. All the best to you guys.

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