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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Justin Hopkins

& The Guilt - Vol. 1 - Here Goes Nothing

Review by Gary Hill

This is a good CD – no question about it. Every song here is quality. My only real issue is the fact that music is really quite generic (picture it in the general neighborhood of Matchbox Twenty for the most part) and doesn’t really have an identity that seems unique. It would be nice to find a few surprises. Still, when the songs are this good you can only complain so much.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Here Goes Nothing
Piano opens this. It works out from there to sort of a classic pop rock kind of arrangement. As the guitar rises up to take the tune to new heights it works really well. The vocals come over the top with a bit of a soulful energy. This song is timeless in sound. It's a killer cut that's driving and compelling and yet catchy. The instrumental section mid-track brings some jazz elements and more to the table.
Racecar
This has a less energized mode to it. It’s more stripped down and still every bit as cool. The sound here are much more towards modern alternative rock. I’d mention Matchbox Twenty again, but also Sister Hazel and other bands.     
Undress You Down
Here we get a smoking bluesy number. ZZ Top, Rolling Stones and even Led Zeppelin come to mind. This is a killer rocker. There’s a bit of a modern alternative rock twist to the chorus – calling up thoughts of the usual suspects we’ve picked up on along the ride so far. This is the strongest number to this point. 
Someday
A gentle and playful piano bit makes up the intro here. As they take it to the song proper, though, this is very much like the opening cut. There’s not a huge amount of difference in terms of style, but both songs are quite strong and each has its own identity.                   
Hurts So Bad
The verses on this aren’t all that different from the music that’s come before. The chorus, though, is a powerhouse, making this one of the strongest cuts on show here. There’s a lush and powerful texture to this chorus.      
Running out of Daylight
Here’s another highlight of the disc. The majority of the track has a bluesy hard rock texture that feels very much like it could have come from some album released in the 1970’s. They do bring in a more modern sound (ala Matchbox Twenty, etc.) on the chorus.  
Goddess
The opening riff here is extremely tasty. They drop it back to a more stripped down approach ala John Mayer or Dave Matthews for the verse. More elements are brought into power up the arrangement in other sections.  We even get the occasional country hint here and there.     
Bastard of a Gentleman
The musical modes that make up this track are very much like the rest of the album, but when the music is this good, it doesn’t feel monolithic, but just entertaining.
Daniel (We Failed You)
There’s a mellow groove to this with an almost reggae texture at times. This is probably the most unique track on the disc. It’s pretty and quite retro at times.  The keyboard solo in particular fits that bill.  
These Are My Friends
We get a killer retro groove with some soul and jazz in the mix on this. There are still definite leanings in the same direction as the songs we’ve heard before, but still, this is a great mellower tune. I even hear some prog rock at places on this.

            

It Ends Tonight
This is perhaps the least distinctive, most derivative song on show here. It’s good, but really feels like Matchbox Twenty or another band from that genre. As such I’m not sure it’s the best choice to close out the disc.          
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