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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Racoon

Another Day

Review by Greg Olma

The great thing about reviewing music is that you get exposed to so many different artists and styles of music that you would otherwise never really hear. Racoon is one of those pleasant surprises that hit me right off the bat. It even surprised me that I liked this record because it is not my usual fare. I’m a metal guy who enjoys progressive music (those are my main two loves) but Another Day does not have either style in it. The band reminds me of, let’s say, Bad Company. Not that they sound alike, but that both bands play to their strengths and have a very organic sound. Another Day just sounds like 4 guys kicking out some tunes. No studio wizardry, Pro Tools, or sampling are used and the music benefits from that. Bart van der Weide has a good voice that fits the tunes perfectly. He doesn’t strain for high notes and sings naturally; kind of like Phil Mogg from UFO. Dennis Huige also does a nice job with the guitar work. He manages to make each track unique yet keeping the overall sound fit. Paul Bukkens and Stefan de Kroon make up a solid rhythm section, giving the tracks a strong foundation to build upon. For anyone out there who is looking for good tunes played by a band of musicians (not superficial pop stars), I would recommend picking up Another Day. This is their third release and based on the strength of this CD, I will definitely try to find the first two.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Happy Family
The CD starts off with a kind of folksy/country tune that morphs into an acoustic Green Day style chorus. That chorus is really catchy and it is a really cool start to a good album.
Hero's In Town
I don’t know what it is but this track really reminds me of something Lindsay Buckingham would do. The music is more “dark” than the previous song and, although both are basically acoustic; this one shows that the band knows how to change things up and keep them interesting.
Love You More
It is kind of early for a ballad but in the grand scheme of things, who really cares? The song is a tender acoustic guitar and vocal ballad that adds a little harmonica solo in the middle.
Laugh About It
We finally get a more electric sounding pop rock song. Racoon have a nice sound that really has an organic feel and “Laugh About It” is one of many examples of that. Bart Van Der Weide has a good voice and fits the music perfectly because he is not straining to hit notes and he just lets it ride on top of the music.
Blow Your Tears
Here we get another “darker” tune that has a European flavor to it. The keyboards add a really nice layer to the sound and fills it in making it sound big. This is one of those pieces that sounds good when you turn up the volume on your stereo.
Couple of Guys
This is probably the most rock-ish tune so far. It is acoustic, but sounds like a song that was more of a hard rock tune that they stripped down to play it unplugged.
Got To Get Out
I really like the electric guitar riff at the beginning and after repeated spins, this is my favorite cut. It has a great groove and has a really modern sound. This track is where it all came together perfectly.
Brother
We go back to acoustic guitar for this ballad that only adds a hint of keyboards to fill in the sound. Even though I am not a fan of ballads, these guys know how to write heartfelt songs without being extremely sappy.
Kingsize
Even though it is mainly acoustic guitars, this cut is still pretty heavy. I really like the groove of the chorus but I’m not that hot on the chorus. The harmonica solo helps it along, but I just wish it had a different chorus.
Lose Another Day
Although this is the longest track on the CD, it seems to go by in a flash. The vocals style reminds me of Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty) but not in a “rip-off” kind of way. The song is a mellow modern rock tune that has all the right elements. If given the chance, “Lose Another Day” could be a big hit for Racoon.
If You Know What I Mean
The cut starts off with almost a tribal beat with some heavier electric guitar laid over it. I think this is one of the stronger cuts on the album and I would have put it sooner in the track order. It’s heavier and would have shown the many sides of the band earlier.
Walk Away
We go back to the acoustic guitar/vocal style of tune but this one has more of a social commentary that the other tracks. I like the lyrics and almost has a 60’s vibe to it.
Hanging With Clowns
This is more of that rock sound that sounds so effortless. Racoon have that same kind of sense of playing to their strengths and “Hanging With The Clowns” has a great groove with a catchy chorus that makes me wonder why they leave such a good song to the end (well, almost the end).
Close Your Eyes
The band ends it like they began it, with an acoustic piece that builds into a catchy tune. Again, this sounds like a rock tune that was stripped down to be played unplugged.
 
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