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Various Artists

Overkill is Just Enough

Review by Gary Hill

Like most compilation discs, this is a mixed bag. There are some tracks I like a lot here. There are also a couple I'd skip over. The majority fall somewhere in between. First off, while the fact that this is a collection of songs featuring 12 string bass is interesting, it's not very obvious. Really, I'd say that for the most part you don't really notice the bass at all - and I'm a bassist. That makes this a tenuous connection at best. Secondly, it would be nice if there were better liner notes on this set. Those two things are the only real issues I have with the set, though - and they are fairly minor. I suppose one could also complain that there isn't enough of a common musical theme here. Personally I consider the variety of sounds to be a bonus.


Overall this is a strong compilation. I'd bet there will be a few cuts here that blow you away, and probably none that have you running for cover. It covers a lot of musical territory.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Crunchy - The Lucky One

Crunchy starts us off by pounding in heavy, ala numetal, but they turn us out into a powerpop styled piece, ala Cheap Trick. It’s a cool track and a good way to start things off.

Robert Baird - Who Said Life Was Fair
Jazz meets hard rock and tribal rhythmic patterns on this cut. It feels rather progressive rock like to me, but also gets pretty crunchy, but more in a fusion way.
Second Glance - The Judas Blues
Another hard rocker, this one is pretty catchy and a little quirky. There’s a killer guitar solo on this.
Clatter - Nighttime
With female vocals and a rather modern progressive rock approach, I like this track a lot. 
Judge Unger's - Imitation
Judge Unger's "Imitation" really has a bit of a flat production and the vocals are rather harsh. That's a shame, too because the music here is pretty exceptional. It feels a bit like some crunchy neo-progressive rock with bits of old school Rush. It's also worth noting that with a different mix and production those vocals would probably work. They are just set too poorly into the mix of music.
Kulukati - Kalungkutan
Like "Imitation" the real issue is a combination of weak vocals and mediocre production. It comes a lot closer to making it into the good category, though. The track reminds me in some ways of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Tony Senatore - Lord of the Subtones
This is a powerhouse prog rock jam. It covers a lot of territory and just plain stomps. It’s sure to please the old school prog purists. This is one of the standout cuts and I like it a lot. 
Hugh Bet'cha - Bring Me Down
This opens with a 1980's hair metal riff - hey, it was 1987. The production on this is a bit lacking, too - but as old as this is, you can cut it some slack. The vocals are perhaps more along the lines of punky metal (think Skid Row meets The Ramones). There's some smoking guitar soloing and this just plain rocks. It's not the best song on here, but it's definitely well into the upper half. I'd love to hear more from this outfit - and some better recordings. Of course, that's if those recordings exist.
Philip Snyder – Title Fight
This reminds me of a punkier Blue Oyster Cult with some Cheap Trick thrown into the mix. It's a cool number that's catchy, but still a bit left of center - in a good way.
Matthew Ryan - Meridian Point

This instrumental is a tasty one and another that falls pretty firmly into the progressive rock heading. I like it a lot.

Xaltar - Every Sunday
Coming in with a Celtic approach, this builds quickly into another progressive rock styled jam. They drop it way down for the verse, though, with an extension of that Celtic sound – brought into a balladic motif – serving as the backdrop. It grows upwards in a very progressive rock oriented motif as it continues, though. This is a Christian track in terms of the lyrics. 
Mark surf Rat Rowe – Psycho
The guy in this song is really a psycho – despite his protests to the contrary. This one’s left of field and yet catchy – a bit like Barenaked Ladies. It’s a fun number about your friendly neighborhood stalker.
Inspector 12 & Jamage Control - A Mystic Blue
Another that I’d consider to be progressive rock, this is more of a modern styled prog with some fusion in the midst. It’s a bit unusual, but also very cool.
Second Glance – Lavender
Not exceptionally unique in terms of the main song structure, this is a pretty solid hard rocking number. The guitar solo section, though, is a real killer. And the vocal arrangement is way beyond average.
Tony Senatore - Shapla
This is Senatore’s interpretation of some cool Beatles psychedelia - and I mean that literally.
 
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