Company: Capitol City Music Factory Release: 2015 Genre: Hard Rock Reviewer: T. Ray Verteramo
It's hard to find Hard Rock done hard. Working the balance between grooves and gorging, without going grunge, is something many musicians choose not to undertake. However, if you're a muti-tasking perfectionist employed by a living guitar legend, such as Wayne Findlay, (a/k/a "Neptune"), apparently finding that world between the worlds is no sweat. It would be easy to assume that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but in fact, "No Sky Today" gives a taste of what some of the sweet pie filling the last two Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock albums are made of. "No Sky" is Findlay's own breakout brand and it proves to be a nice little dish of soul food.
The first raspy bars of the title song introduce the project as if Alice broke out of the Chains and saunters into a bar. Just as you're intrigued enough to wonder if this is some retro act, Paul Jones' velvet alto vocals, oozing with coolness, drapes over the music to deliver tough, hard-knock lyrics and there it is; like it or not, you're hooked. Findlay -- in charge of all guitars, back up vocals, keyboards, and production -- along with Jones, accompanied by studio musicians, Scotty Phillips and Kelly Garni (drums and bass, respectively), bring that scale of street-wise rock and metal, with a slice of blues, in complete solidarity. There are no complicated chord progressions, tempo, or signature changes, but it still possesses its own sense of innovation to keep your ears peeled.
All the songs are produced as they are composed; not too polished, not too rough, with just enough harmonies to enhance, and not too much saturation. "Final Hour" does have a strong resemblance to classic Soundgarden from the "Louder Than Love" era, and "Heavy is the Debt," is also reminiscent of late 80's, early 90's pre-skater chops. But, for the majority of the short and sweet selections such as, "Another Goodbye," "Pieces," and "Real Life," they make for an appropriate soundtrack for the road. "Sons of Anarchy" missed out...
And speaking of soul food, one very cool note: According to Capitol City's web-press release, "While in the studio recording their debut album, No Sky Today was asked to record an unreleased track of Tommy Bolin's (James Gang/Deep Purple) called 'Jump Back', as part of a compilation CD called 'Mister Bolin's Late Night Revival.' Wayne arranged, produced and performed all guitars and keys on the song with guest Fin Muir (Wasted) on vocals. Proceeds from the album go to a local drug recovery center in Sioux Falls, Tommy Bolin's Hometown."
"No Sky Today" is a good album. It's extremely listenable. It has its limits, such as Jones' strained ballad performance on "Escape". The man has a comfort zone and when he's out of it, it is not romantic. However, when he's in there, it's beautiful. No fluff, but lots of riffs and edginess. In other words, it may sound familiar, but you've never heard it before. And if you think you have, it wasn't like this.
About this Writer: T. Ray Verteramo // T. Ray is a product of New York Mediterranean upbringing, discovering Alice Cooper before puberty, and Iron Maiden after. Taken underwing by the former managing editor of Hit Parader magazine in 1985, she took to freelancing, writing up the local and national circuit for 7 years. A new millennium, a published dystopic thriller, and a CNN article on life in metal in the 80's later, she's been thrown back to the wolves, into a much darker and deeper part of the forest.
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