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Non-Prog CD Reviews

No Sky Today

No Sky Today

Review by Larry Toering

This is the brainchild of  Wayne Findlay, the longest running band member of MSG (Michael Schenker Group). Released in June of 2011, it was written and performed by Findlay, with vocals and lyrics by Paul Jones, along with band members Kelly Garni on bass and Scotty Philips on drums and percussion. Not one bum note threatens to bring this disc down, as it proceeds to contain everything needed to come up with the hard rock and metal goods. Findlay is a remarkable talent from San Diego, California who seems to know all the right moves to stay grounded in today's ever changing landscape. This release shows how he does it, with some of the best guitar, keyboard and vocal work around. All in all this album is as near perfect as it gets in this age of quick produce and release approaches to music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
No Sky Today
This is a crunchy opener with an instant sound that rings of days going back at least as far as 1998. All of the elements of that period can be heard here and at times throughout the entire disc. For me that puts it in the right spot to both reflect and soak up current inflections of this more or less grunge/hard rock approach. Automatically one can be reminded of acts across the board from Corrosion of Conformity to Marcy Playground when this hits the ears. But it comes full circle, whether or not the timing is right, the overall sound sort of caps that era and accepts a new one at  the same time.
She's On Fire
Things get a tad more frantic here with a slightly stronger but less accessible track. What I like here mostly are the lyrics and how the vocals are delivered, but the tune itself is strong, as well. One of the cooler things about the whole disc is the use of excellent chorus skills provided by Paul Jones who wrote all of the lyrics. The guitar work here is simply amazing, and it doesn't dominate or hog the arrangement. It's so evenly blended.
Final Hour
I wouldn't be going out on a limb if I were to describe this as the album’s most accessible track, as the chorus strikes absolute perfection and the entire number brings home the right stuff to make this release all it can be. At this point, Findlay and Jones seem to be firmly established in their combo factor, as they show how well they work together.
Heavy Is The Debt
This is where things really peak for me, with an outstanding effort by all. This is one hot track to to take the proverbial cake. Everything they're about seems to be defined in this one tune, at least that is the impact it has on this one listener, after many spins. There really isn't a lot more to describe about it, as it proceeds to sum it all up in a few minutes. Findlay and Jones find their combustion and let it all hang out on this killer number with incendiary factors written all over it. This is simply perfect.
Another Goodbye
The industrial feel is kept here, but it's refined with more melody on this track. Once again, the winning chorus carries the listener along until met up with equally inspiring guitar. It’s another storm in the blender of a track with mass appeal in tow. I'm loving the whirlwind licks displayed by Findlay on guitar. It’s just some of the tastiest guitar playing this side of Michael Schenker himself.
Escape
This is a ballad complete with a lovely piano texture. I wouldn't normally expect such a pace dropper at this point, but it somehow fits perfectly. Things do pick up in the middle, but never getting away from the actual speed of things. It’s just another great album track with some great background vocals.
Break Up
Findlay instantly comes alive here with some more of that whirlwind riffing of which I can’t get enough. This enters more of a straight forward metal vibe to go with the already heavy handed approach. The vocals do everything right to help this great guitar work along to becoming another well structured track. There’s no denying the talent of Findlay and company by now.
Intermezzo
This could not have better timing, as the lovely acoustic instrumental piece displays everything needed by this point on the disc. It's almost spooky how it comes along and does its business with pure precision and class.
Real Life
There is nothing negative to be said about one note of this disc, but there are some lesser moments of glory, and perhaps this might be one of them. Once that thought sets in, though,  there goes Findlay again with some more first class playing to dispute that. I'm just not as floored by this number as some of the rest, so the inspiration drops a tad here for me. I hear this as more of a filler. That's all.
Into the Sun
More killer vocals entrance the listener with a more mid-tempo arrangement that is all helped along by acoustic guitar with an electric applied over it at just the right points. This is another killer track that follows the pace of a ballad, with a real Soundgarden feel, ala “Black Hole Sun” which the entire disc seems to reflect, era-wise. That influence, or whatever it is, has nothing to do with the word “sun” being in the title or mentioned in the song. What I'm trying to say is this is somehow better than “Black Hole Sun” to my ears. It’s more great stuff that is all so perfectly blended. This is simply mesmerizing, as Findlay lets the feedback take the fade.
Pieces
This is more of a bouncy tune than the rest, but to describe that difference it would be difficult. There is just less pounding here and more accessible factors carrying it. This is a track I could see being placed closer to the beginning, rather than the end.
Gear Grinder
Things go back to a cut above the previous track here, but the overall tune blows it away indeed, making for a fabulous exit. I'm reminded of some other bands here as well, but the good thing is that I can't put my finger on any of them. The destination is most certainly reached by the time it's all over.

 

 
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