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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Snaggs

Hot Tomato

Review by Gary Hill

The Snaggs are a band you may not have heard of, but if you like modern pop rock, you probably should give them a chance. If you are a Cheap Trick fan, you might find a reason to give them a listen, too. Indeed, their lead singer Holland Zander is the daughter of Trick vocalist Robin Zander, and her voice is arguably even stronger than his. In fact, her vocal performance is one of the highlights of a strong, but somewhat flawed disc. On the plus side, a lot of this music is quite catchy, and will stick with you for quite a while after listening. There are only two real drawbacks here. The first is that a lot of the music feels a bit undone. In other words, while it is functional, it seems like they could have put a little more work into fleshing out their musical ideas and come up with stronger tunes. The second problem comes with the lyrics. Some of them seem to be based on insider jokes and comments between friends. It seems likely that anyone out of the loop won't get it. Both of these things only take away so much from a good, if not great album. For more information or to buy the CD stop by the band's website at www.thesnaggs.com.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hipsters
This is a straightforward cut one part power pop and one part alternative rock. It's quite catchy and one of the standouts of the disc.

Heavy Metal Music Playing Friend
Starting with a slightly rough riff, this one has a strong hard rocking burst as its intro. It then drops to a '60's rock influenced balladic verse. The chorus is a bit crunchy. This one is a little awkward, and the lyrics are a little too insider focused, but a cool bridge raises it above mediocrity.

Over The Phone
Starting with a catchy pop rock chorus, this balladic rocker is pretty cool and a definite improvement over the last one. The folky pop rock texture is very effective, and the slightly Beatlesesque extremely catchy chorus is great.

Alcoholic Glow
Slightly rough around the edges (in a good way) this is a rocker with a killer '70's rock and roll texture and interesting vocal arrangement.

Billie Dolan
This one starts with a riff from the Who's "Baba O'Reilly" although here it sounds a lot like a Cheap Trick riff, but it's an old school rock and roll cut with a killer bass line. This one is extremely catchy, but the R rated lyrics, cute and fun as they are, are definitely not for those offended by sexual content.

Conversation With a Friend
Another somewhat retro sounding pop rocker, this is a solid, if not standout cut. The vocal performance on this one, though is heads above a lot of the other tracks.

Destroy
The formula here is much like the previous cuts, but this one has a smoking crunchy segment that by itself ifs one of the highlights of the disc. This is another where the lyrics will preclude the kiddies listening. The guitar solo on this one smokes, as does the bridge.
Evergreen
This is a pretty and fairly sedate ballad that has some crunchier moments. Zander puts in a gentle vocal performance here. This is one of the more interesting arrangements on the disc and gets pretty lush.
Pageantry
A countrified stomper ala Lone Justice, this one features male vocals with Zander only covering the backup. It is a pretty cool track. It turns a bit weird and dissonant later in an odd proggy jam segment. The bass provides the direction back to the main son in time for the outro, though.

Way To Be
Another straightforward rocker with retro textures, this is one of my favorites on the disc. It includes a great arrangement, powerfully evocative lyrics and a killer instrumental break complete with backwards tracked instrumental work. This one is very cool.
Letting Go
Another fast paced rocker, this killer is the coolest track on the disc. They sure know how to end on a high note (well, as you read on, only so much). I'm guessing this cut has been around a bit longer than some of the other songs because it feels more finished than some of the rest. This one alone is almost work the price of admission.
Hidden Track
This is a cover of a mellow countrified Gram Parsons ballad. It's not bad. In fact, it's pretty strong, but they should have put it earlier on the disc as "Letting Go" is a far stronger album closer. Still, this reminds me quite a bit of some of the mellower Janis Joplin music and that can't be a bad thing. Zander's voice is definitely easier to listen to than Joplin, too.
 
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