Emblem3; Nothing To Lose (Columbia)
Emblem3 recently won Breakout Group at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards beating out the likes of The Lumineers and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis while The Huffington Post hails them as “the next boy band to watch.”
And, true to form, the debut album for Emblem3 hit the Top 10 sales charts on both sides of the border last week.
The trio of brothers Keaton and Wesley Stromberg and their close friend since boyhood Drew Chadwick have seen nothing but an upward trajectory in their musical career since competing on the second season of The X Factor. The lads co-wrote a few songs on this debut that is a little different from the run of the mill boy bands for its occasional blend of ska and reggae in the mix. However, in spite of this, almost all songs eventually end up as arena chants so that found and future fans can sing along when the group hits the mega big-time that most people are predicting for them.
The trio—hence the name Emblem3 and their soon to be omnipresent logo E3—have scored a sizable hit with their lead off single Chloe (You’re The One For Me) which is based on a loose theme of sibling rivalry.
But several other tracks on Nothing To Lose will also contend for air-wave and Internet play including the ear worm Girl Next Door that has sharp hooks and the ever-present Hey Hey chant-along for arena play.
Right now Emblem3 have scored a coveted spot on Selena Gomez’ huge Stars Dance tour that runs the rest of this summer and well into the fall so that after this huge exposure, the lads seem set to solidify their fortune.
Although a lot of the songs on this first offering sound a touch too cut from the same cloth, the lads tackle a couple of interesting topics not usual for boy bands who mostly want to attract tweeny puppy love and sell-able adoration.
On the slightly Bob Marley-like One Day they hope for “the end of wars” while on Jaiden (a gender neutral name) the trio laments the loss of a close friend who died too young.
Fans will want to know that this album also comes as a Deluxe Edition with four extra songs that offers some dance rock with Do It All Again and the aforementioned Jaiden.
Emblem3 haven’t re-invented the wheel with Nothing To Lose but as long as there are young teen idolize-rs in need of the next boy band fix, this trio has it made in the shade.
Walking Papers: (Loud & Proud Records)
Walking Papers is the self-titled debut album from the Seattle-based foursome of Duff McKagan, of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees with Jeff Angell and Benjamin Anderson both formerly of The Missionary Position.
This is an album of all originals with all songs written by the team of Angell and Martin and in spite of their Pacific Northwest grunge pedigree, Walking Papers sound is mostly rootsy and uncomplicated blues rock.
Classic Rock magazine has called this album “a masterpiece of mood and tension” and that is how this album begins. The lead off song Already Dead is a haunting and self-loathing ballad with menacing metronome drumming where Angell sings about being “a casualty of who I used to be.”
The feature single, The Whole World Is Watching, is straight up, spare blues rock that seems impatient for change with the lyric “hurry up and wait” while this single is bound to get major rock station attention with its guitar solo by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.
Meanwhile, the band appears to be channeling a bit of Deep Purple’s Space Truckin’ and the Rolling Stones swagger on the rocker Red Envelopes while the slow cooking ballad The Butcher has a Gothic murder motif complete with marimbas and echo FX.
In fact, the middle body of this album is interesting for its story songs. On the David Lynch and Mark Sandman (of Morphine)-like song A Place Like This, the mysterious girl he was dancing with in a seedy bar vanishes into thin air on the floor as she is a ghost.
Two Tickets And A Room has an intriguing and sodden Leaving Las Vegas theme while I’ll Stick Around has a femme fatale at its core while McCready lays down another solid guitar solo.
A solid set of edgy blues rock without any of the grunge or metal leanings of the past and these songs grow on you with repeated listens.
The Civil Wars Musical Note: Well, if you are going to get it wrong you might just as well get it spectacularly wrong. Last week I wrote that I didn’t think that The Civil Wars eponymous sophomore album would surpass their debut release Barton Hollow that hit the top 10 in the USA last year. I could not have been more off target as The Civil Wars’ second album has made its debut at the No.1 spot on the album sales charts in both Canada and on Billboard while the album is also charting very highly around the rest of the globe. The duo of John Paul White and Joy Williams brand of alt-country folk has struck a major chord so they now have a huge support base. Fans will probably want to search out their recently released soundtrack album made with T-Bone Burnett to the film A Place At The Table as well. Ciao