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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Virginia Coalition

Home This Year

Review by Gary Hill

There’s something to be said about the timeless quality of good pop rock. Those types of tracks always work. That’s what these guys deliver. The album is quite strong in that every tune is one that will resonate with you. The only real problem is that these guys don’t really stand out from the pack – they seem like any number of strong songsters that are out there. They just don’t really have their own identity. The same can be said for these songs. The thing is, most of the tracks here are strong enough on their own to make them work in a collection of much too similar music. That says a lot about this group’s skills in creating potent songs. If they could just develop a bit more of their own identity they’d have what it takes to be superstars.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Home This Year
A pop rock styled song, a lot of this one reminds me of the old band Looking Glass. Sure, there’s a more modern alternative rock feel to this, but a catchy pop rock tune is timeless and this one fits that bill.
Santa Fe
So, you say you like Barenaked Ladies – the band, I’m talking about the band. This song reminds me a bit of them, but also a bit of Sister Hazel. It’s a good tune.
Stars Align
This has much the same musical textures as the earlier two pieces. While there’s no big changes it still has its own identity and is another fun track.
Not Scared
In a change of pace they drop back to an acoustic guitar based balladic approach. This is actually one of my favorite tracks on show here.  The instrumental arrangement on this gets quite involved at times and there is some particularly pretty piano work.
Same Page
Staring with some bouncing piano, this is a pop rocker that feels fun.
Sing Along
This is a more serious textured piece. It feels like a powerful anthemic ballad. The verses are in a very mellow motif but they power it up for the chorus.  The vocal arrangement on this is particularly noteworthy.
Lately
In many ways this doesn’t differ a lot from the rest of the music on the CD. It just seems like this upbeat modern rock tune has been infused with a bit more of all that makes this music cool than some of the other stuff. That makes this one a standout.

A Desperate Way
They start this one is a more tentative way, but it builds up into one of the most powerful arrangements on the disc. This even feels a bit like prog rock at times. It’s one of the best cuts here.
Look My Way
The band’s trademark sound remains essentially unchanged here. This is another good pop rock tune, but it is starting to wear just a little thin here. This song is just not strong enough to get past the “sameyness” of it.
I Got This One
They alter things in degrees here and this track is one of the best ones on show here. That makes it work despite the slight monotony of the sound on the CD. It also makes it a great disc closer.
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