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Non-Prog CD Reviews

James Blonde

International Orange

Review by Gary Hill

In the fine tradition of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jethro Tull, there is no James Blonde in this band. Instead we have an alternative rock meets pop act from Niagara Falls in Canada. These guys produce some solid guitar rock tunes. The music is packed full of tasty riffs and catchy hooks. It's just a bit too formulaic and not unique enough on this set. All that said, this works really well one track at a time. Even spinning the whole disc, there are only a few spots where it seems to get too samey and non-descript. This isn't the easiest thing to do a track by track review about, though. The music just doesn't differ enough from song to song, and it all lands pretty well in a mainstream rock box that's not particularly unique. That shouldn't interfere with the experience of just putting it on and grooving to it, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Never Complain
I dig the cool alternative rock meets power-pop kind of vibe on this song. It's energetic, catchy and classy. This is pop oriented guitar rock at its best.
So Sorry
A bit less intense, I love the bass guitar sound on this cut. There is a bit of a punky edge to this piece. The power pop concept is more fully on display here.
Your Life Story
Edgy, but still catchy, this is a mainstream alternative rocker that's classy.
Every Boy
Another classy rocker, this isn't a big change. Instead, it's another effective rocker that's catchy and meaty both.
I Want You Forever
Not a big change, this is another solid pop rocker.
Night Life
The riff that opens this makes me think of Sweet's "Love is Like Oxygen." This cut has a drama and power that elevates it above the other tracks around it. It's one of the highlights of the set, without really changing the basic concept. I dig the classy guitar solo, too.
Marie
There is a real punk rock edge and energy to this cut. It would have fit in quite well in the days when Elvis Costello and Tom Petty were first taking over the radio airwaves. It's catchy and has some cool guitar riffs. The ending jam is a cool change, but grinds on a bit too long.
Operator
A bouncy kind of edgy rocker, this is classic in texture, but not one of my favorites here. It's a good tune, but just a bit too predictable and generic, particularly in comparison to the rest of the set.
Isabel
Another that's competent, but nothing all that special, this has some good hooks. Part of the problem is that the gritty pop-rock formula is beginning to wear a bit thin by this point in the set.
Money
The chorus here is particularly catchy. That helps to elevate the track a bit. The punky guitar riff is another element that allows that to stand tall enough to work as the closing shot.
 
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