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Andrew Neil

Freak

Review by Gary Hill

This is an intriguing set. There are some songs that stand pretty tall. It's not without its issues, though. For one thing, there is a tendency toward being over-produced, in keeping with modern pop. Secondly, it seems to stretch a bit far in terms of musical styles. It ranges from hard rocking alternative to hip hop and modern R&B. I can't really imagine that too many fans of one of those styles would be all that aligned with the others. Still, these days people only listen to a song or two at a time, so they can choose the ones that are in line with their tastes. The other issue is that the vocal performance, despite all the variety here, tends to be a bit samey. That said, the listen to just one song phenomenon will prevent that from becoming an issue. There is often a bit of DIY awkwardness here, particularly in terms of the production, but that's almost more of a charm than any kind failing. All in all, this is interesting and has some solid tunes.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Freak
Drums power this in with style. The cut works out to a cool alternative rock jam. There is a bit of a dreamy element brought by the overlayers of sound. There is a solid rocking sound to the majority of this cut, though.
Kentucky Whiskey
There is a bit of an 80s rock texture to this cut. It has more of that pure alternative rock vibe, but it's not quite as driving as the opening piece was. There are some guitar fills on this that even make me think of progressive rock a bit.
Hope
This one gets a bit of a dreamy alternative pop vibe. The vocals are a bit processed, and I can't decide if I like that aspect or not. Still, this is one of the catchiest tunes here and has some cool hooks.
Overdose
I really love this tune. It raises the stakes by cranking up the energy and hooks. This is sort of a cool glam rock meets garage rock kind of thing.
Help
This song has more of an electronic vibe. It makes me think of some modern R&B type music. At times the processing of the vocals crosses the line a bit for me. All that said, this brings some variety and is an interesting cut.
Rain
A balladic piece, this strikes a balance between the rock edge that dominates the first section of this set and the R&B kind of sounds of the previous number. It is an effective song.
All Over
Featuring a male and female duet, this goes more fully into the R&B thing. It includes some hip hop and some over-processed (only slightly) parts. Of everything here, I like this the least.
Put Me Back Together
Electronic sounds bring an intriguing concept to this thing. It has some elements of that modern R&B thing, but it's brought into an almost progressive rock texture. This is dramatic and powerful and one of the real highlights of the set. The cut gets into some cool rocking zones as it evolves.
Drunk Tonight

Rock and modern pop music merge on this piece. This is another that just doesn't do a lot for me. That said, the harder rocking movement later works pretty well.

American Dream
A weird electronic psychedelic element merges with techno and some hints of modern R&B on this tune. This is an odd piece, but it's also strangely compelling. It has some good hooks, too.
Drum Song
This number alternates between a mellower section that is in keeping with the electronic pop rock textures of a lot of the set, and a more glam rock based movement that really drives it like crazy. This is one of the more effective songs here.
Beautiful Dancer
I dig the guitar sound at the start of this. The number is in a lot of the same zones as the song that preceded it, but has a more pure rock sound. This is another of the stronger cuts here.
Thirty-Two
There is a gritty rock groove to this. The cut is one of the most "real" sounding things here. It has quite a tasty sound. The guitar is classy. Don't miss that bass line, though. There is both glam rock and punk built into this beast. It's one of my favorites of the set.
Disappear
I dig the rocking groove on this a lot, too. There is a techno rock meets punk edge to this thing. It's one of the meaner pieces here. It's also another standout cut.
 
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