Tag Archives: Maroon 5

New Album!Jetpack On!

Jetpack On! (their punctuation – although I would imagine that anytime a jetpack is involved, there is some sense of urgency) is a three-piece band from Michigan that nicely straddles indie, powerpop and straight-ahead rock and roll. Guitars rock, vocals are solid, and there’s a conscious effort to avoid padding in the arrangements – a welcome change from a lot of young bands seeking to set themselves apart from the pack.

Leadoff cut “Best I Can” is punchy with an infectious chorus, sounding like Snow Patrol asked The Edge to sit in on guitar – and it’s even better than that sounds. There are a myriad of “sounds like” moments here, from the above referenced U2 in “Come On Stack It Up” to such polar opposites as a poppier Buckcherry (“Tease Tease Tease”) and a far more skilled Maroon 5 (“I Know, You Know”, “Here Again”). One could even imagine a mature Billy Idol helming “Another Surpise” and having an FM hit with it; guitarist Ryan Hoger even sounds like he’s getting his Steve Stevens on during the solo.

Hoger and Nick and Vince D’Agostino (bass and drums, respectively) have a clear, crisp sound and songs that for the most part hold up very well with repeat plays. The ten tracks hover between the four and five-minute mark, which is a minute longer than people expect from pop songs, but Jetpack On pulls it off; I never felt like the songs should have ended sooner.

In fact, my two favorite tracks might be the longest. The hypnotic single “Where Do We Go From Here?” gradually builds from a pulse to a fist-pumping rocker, and the closing track “Bring Her Back Home” is just dripping with attitude. I suggest that you check them out and get your Jetpack On!

Jetpack On! at MySpace

Although he sat in on a gig in July, he hadn’t been playing drums with them since 2009, but you can’t think of Little Feat without thinking of its backbone, and one of its founders, Richie Hayward. Diagnosed with liver cancer last year, and sadly (like so many musicians) without sufficient health insurance, he finally succumbed Thursday night.

Beyond the storied and wonderful Feat catalogue, Hayward also played with a laundry list of musicians over the years and will be sorely missed. I hope he and Lowell George are jamming right now in that club on the other side. R.I.P. my friend.

Richie Hayward

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New Album! The Alternate Routes

Actually, more like a sure thing

Actually, more like a sure thing

I first came across The Alternate Routes through their song “Ordinary”, which immediately blew me away and remained one of my favories for that year. I put it on a year-end mixtape (mixdisc?) and it was one of the songs that drew the most comments. And a group of old friends who have a band liked it so much they learned it and added it to their set list. I felt like I stumbled upon a hidden treasure.

Not counting self-released versions of Good And Reckless And True (their debut on Vanguard) and EPs, A Sucker’s Dream is just their second album, and the maturity in both songcraft and performance is already rock solid. Whether acoustic or electric, their material is consistently melodic, infectious and well structured. Lyrically, there are easily identifiable themes like overcoming adversity or coming to terms with yourself in the big picture, and they’re as effective with atmospheric mid-tempo songs like “November” and “Never Gonna Be Rich” as they are with flat-out rockers like (the ironically titled) “On And On We Whisper”. And although a guest spot by Patti Griffin is a nice coup, Tim Warren doesn’t need to take a backseat to anyone as a vocalist.

Guitar play between Eric Donnelly and Mike Sembos always fills the space in a cohesive and interesting manner, with Chip Johnson and studio drummer Giles Reeves able to support or propel as appropriate. A quick peek at their Wiki site makes it look like they go through drummers faster than Spinal Tap – Mike Stavitz is pounding the skins at the moment – but this is obviously a tight-knit crew who gel both onstage and on record.

I recently saw the band play as an opening act, and they totally won the crowd over by the third song. When I first hit the club, the band was in the process of getting the right levels on a toolbox (!) which is featured as a prominent percussion item on “The Future’s Nothing New”. Of course, that ate up their warm up time, so when they took the stage for real they introduced the rambunctious opening number “Toe The Line” as “a little song we call ‘Soundcheck’…” They played a tight, energetic set, were funny as hell and were sincerely appreciative of the crowd. They left town with a boatload of new converts, and I can’t imagine that’s not happening elsewhere.

Bands with a similar sound have clicked before. Maroon 5′ blew up with a combination of solid songwriting and Adam Levine’s vocals, but these songs are solid and Tim Warren is a better singer, more expressive yet without the stage antics. Do you miss Train or The Gin Blossoms? Well, if either band released something as consistent as A Sucker’s Dream they’d be buzzed about as thoroughly as they were in their heyday. These guys are one of rock’s best-kept secrets, and for their sake I hope that changes immediately.

Trust me on this one – The Alternate Routes are a very good band that’s still growing, and this album that will surface again when I’m making my year-end lists of best music.

The Alternate Routes on MySpace.

Video for “The Future’s Nothing New”

“All That I See”, live on World Cafe.

Fan video for “Ordinary” – the song that hooked me.

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