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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The 71s

We Are The 71s

Review by Gary Hill

Here’s a disc that’s likely to make its way into my “best of 2012” list. These guys combine a lot of styles into a sound that’s both unique and accessible. In short, they rock. There’s a lot of jam band music here, along with power pop, Zeppelin like riffing and lots of other killer sounds. It’s tough to nail these guys to one set of influences or one genre, but yet everything fits together well. The disc never feels redundant or tired and it’s got no weak material. Red Hot Chili Peppers are a frequent reference point, but one could also point to Jane’s Addiction and Cheap Trick. Probably Jane’s Addiction is the best comparison, but not so much as individual bits. It’s more indicative of the overall style here. However you paint this, though, the disc is a great one that deserves to be in a lot of collections.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Blue Blood
The chords that open this chug in with an almost punk rock element. There is a real power pop sound here, though. In a lot of ways this feels like something Cheap Trick would do. It’s a killer tune and just plain works really well.
Confession
Combining that power pop element with a riff that almost feels like vintage Led Zeppelin, this is a killer. It’s less “in your face” than the opener, but just oozes cool. The instrumental section later in the piece is full of great textures, gliding over the top of one another and has a lot of psychedelia built into it.
Waves
Roots rock meets punk on this fast paced tune. It’s literally a screamer as many of the vocals are screamed. It’s a change, but it works really well.
Adeline
Another hard rocker, this has more of that Cheap Trick sound, but also quite a bit of an indie rock late 1960s garage element. It’s another screaming hot tune. The chorus vocal hook is classic.
10,000 Miles
Piano opens this tune up and the vocals come in over the top in a big change of pace. After the first vocal section other instruments join, but the motif is essentially classic rock power ballad. Again, accessible and classic in nature, we have another definite winner here.
Taken –
As the distorted rocking sound of this rises up, it really feels like an extension of the previous track. There’s a cool vibe to this as it gradually grows outward, feeling a bit like Mazzy Star in the echoey patterns of sound. Then it powers out into the song proper and we’re in another jam that has elements of distortion laden hard rock combined with something more like power pop. The guitar that soars over the top in the arrangement brings more psychedelia to the table.
Victimology
A stripped down arrangement serves as the backdrop for a powerfully intimate vocal performance. As this gets more power added to the mix it feels a bit like a rockabilly sound merged with a noisy modern psychedelic approach. Then it works out to a harder rocking mode and it has a real classic bluesy rock sound. Led Zeppelin is a valid reference on this cut, too. It’s a slower tune and works quite well. It showcases yet another side of this killer band.
Much Too Much
Raw modern rock is the order of the business here. This is an energetic and yet catchy rocker that works well. It carries on the sound of the group, but manages to bring something new to the table.
Prince
Falsetto vocals are heard on the opening section of this over the top of another Zeppelin-like riff driven musical motif. There are catchier vocals later in the piece, bringing more power pop to the table. This is a modern take on classic rock sounds. It’s hard edged and quite tasty. In some ways it feels like blending Red Hot Chili Peppers with Cactus.
Lucky To Lose
The punk vibe is back a bit on this tune. It’s got another classic riff and really brings a 1960s vibe to the table in a lot of ways. The vocals are accessible and this is another great example of how this group takes various styles and combines them into something that’s catchy, meaty and unique. The number is fairly complex and really does work through a lot of different musical concepts.
Heaven
Guitars weave some great melody on the opening segment here. This cut has almost a southern rock meets jam band element to it. This is one of the more purely melodic tunes on show and actually has quite a bit in common with modern progressive rock.
Monsters
This is another killer riff driven rocker that is just plain awesome. It does a great job of pulling all the sounds of the album into one cohesive and concise musical concept.
Unlisted Track
After a short bit of silence a new tune rises up that combines melodic mellower music with harder rocking sounds.
 
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