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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Groove Thief

A Thief In The Night

Review by Larry Toering

This is one awesome piece of work by a northwest rock outfit that combines current alternative stylings with classic rock and other old school factors. It’s all delivered with a major degree of finesse. It's guitar driven but the guitars are not oppressive in any way. That’s achieved because the vocals play a stronger part and the rhythm section comes off very effectively. It really does blend together nicely with a menacing charm that makes for material that begs for mainstream attention, but not in any sort of pandering way. Guitarist Matthew Ryan doesn't lead the band by the nose like some other guitarists do. He is a very generous musician that seems to know exactly how to share the arrangement limelight with vocalist Blaine Vogt and the insane rhythm section of Jarred Venti (bass) and Tim Sieroslawski. This is their second helping, after their first EP, and they're already working on their next release. It was recorded and mastered at Cityview by Kevin McCarthy and produced by Jarred Venti as well.  This is one band that takes pride in their craft, and they’ve created an absolutely killer disc that I cannot recommend enough.

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
Groove Thief
Not a second is wasted in getting right down to the real nitty gritty, as bass player/keyboardist and background vocalist Jarred Venti carries a gigantic groove, complete with Cry Baby effects, not unlike that of Glenn Hughes. I feel a strong influence there, and it just doesn't get much better than that. Still, it doesn't end there by any means, as co-writer of this track, vocalist Blaine Vogt is all over the place with volcanic singing. The use of guitars here are balanced. Being the name of the band, this is a bold and very dynamic step, taken and delivered bravely and successfully.
Running Away

This is a little more laid back and melodic at first, but it isn't long before the huge chorus takes you by the throat and drives ten pounds of steel down it. I liken this to that of bands like Nickelback, but the thing is, as far as I'm concerned these guys blow them off the face of the earth in one fell swoop. In fact,  I find the chorus to be so outstanding it's unreal, and all he does is simply repeat the title with the addition of “are you” in front of it. By the time it's over it equals the opening track and many others to follow. More background vocals are provided here by Dan Larson and Andrew Stevens.

If You Go
With lyrics like “we stand on broken glass / shattered fragments from our past,” there is no way to lose the listener. That pretty much sums it up and there isn't much more to add, other than this is simply another gem of radical proportions.
Help Me
The groove slows down quite a bit on this number, which plays more like a classic rock ballad but picks up in the right places. It does that with incendiary guitars from hell and spicy background vocals and a very funky appeal at times. That carries on throughout the disc in parts to be perfectly honest, but it comes on strong here so must be mentioned at this point. Lead vocals and rhythm guitar get treatment from Ryan in the verses. In addition, there’s lead guitar by Vogt in the verses and additional guitar provided by Venti. That’s just one example of the mad skills within this entire quartet.
Way To Heaven
More of that same spicy background vocal appeal kicks in here after a smooth rainy intro. This harkens back to the likes of Marcy Playground and others who started taking off toward the end of the 90s. It's hard not to feel influences, even when they're blended or even cleverly disguised. I don't care about who in particular this band sounds like, because I would consider replacing them with any of them. They're that infectious, and it's just amazing how this isn't all over the radio and other platforms besides those found on the internet.
Don't Want To Hold On
This is another winner, as there seems to be not one filler on the disc. That bass pedal effect can not be done enough. In fact, I could stand to hear it used in every Groove Thief track. It's just so cool that it's not even funny. I love the percussion here from drummer Matthew Ryan, as he pours the groove and roll on strong but sensitively. This goes into a killer jam toward the end that takes it out in grand fashion.
The Wind

Just a few bars are heard before you get the feeling this is penned by singer Vogt, and that happens to be the case. This also contains some of the fantastic textures that are laced throughout the recording. That scratchy sort of effect carries the guitar solo nicely here for a beautiful touch, and he sings softly in contrast to everything else contained here.

In The Night
More great background vocals are featured here. In addition, Vogt’s voice seems to achieve a higher maturity here, as if to progress to this point on the disc. I make out congas in the percussion, but I could be wrong. Either way, it's another totally awesome track to say the least. Venti's bass line keeps the entire track well grounded.
The Bottle Song
The Nickelback factor is once again taken to school here, if you ask me. However, it's only in the vocal department, and if Vogt is influenced by them it's only natural, as they're the same generation. I just think they improve the whole sound and have so much more going on musically. They simply rock ten times harder and apply such a variety of grooves that results in such better efforts.
On The Run
This is a solid closer with more melodic factors going for it. It’s another accessible track for any airplay platform. I haven't spoken much about the use of guitars, but in this case they gain momentum. With this sitting as the final track, that doesn’t hurt, at all. Groove Thief certainly accomplish saving the best for last here with some tasty licks to take the proceedings to an end. The addition of guitar by Venti should be duly noted here as well, making it all the more interesting.

 

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