December 2012 CD Reviews
CORELOK – FATE OF THE WORLD (no label) Clearfield County-based power trio Corelok formed in late 2011, and their debut disc, Fate Of The World, offers a throwback to ‘80s era hard rock and metal over its 11 tracks. Singer/guitarist Joe Knepp, bassist Gary Shaffer and drummer Scott Sass rock for broke with chugging rhythms, sharp guitar work and howling vocals; generating a sound reminiscent of early Dokken and Def Leppard. The songs hooks are catchy, efficient and to the point, and Knepp provides ample pipes to deliver them. He sings about forging forward on the disc-opener “Never Going Back,” performs self-examination on the stern rumbler “Peaceful Man,” and explores feelings of confusion on the Dio-ish “No Way Out.” Relationship dynamics take the forefront on rockers such as “Over Again,” “On The Line” and “Stole My Pride.” Corelok lets it rip on the speed burner “Take It To Your Grave,” and ponders impending doom on the title track and disc-closer “Fate of the World.” The performances are charged and go for broke, and Corelok’s execution is airtight. Knepp sings with heart and intensity, while his razor sharp guitar solos often exude a George Lynch-like precision. Recorded at Audible Images Recording Studio in Port Matilda, Fate of the World sounds fundamentally sharp and full; edgy but with just enough polish to give it a smoothness and consistency. Corelok delivers an impressive opening statement with Fate Of The World, and fans of melody-geared hard rock will find plenty to savor here. (The CD can be obtained through the CD Baby website, www.cdbaby.com.)
JASON O – IN MY BONES (no label) Currently the lead singer for State College-based party-rock band My Hero Zero, Jason Olcese – Jason O – is an accomplished solo performer as well, and has released six independent albums to date. His latest, In My Bones, features a baker’s dozen acoustic-geared compositions that mix uplifting folk, jazz and light rock/pop flavors. Jason plays most of the instruments on the album, with Lee Griffin helping out on bass; and he displays a smooth, laid-back, soulful singing style. Jason voices thoughtful themes of life’s simplicity and accepting the here and now. After the dreamy piano ode “Far Away” starts the journey, “That Is Okay” willingly goes with the flow and accepts what is. That perspective permeates “The World Just Keeps Spinning,” and self-realization and confidence step forth through the simply-arranged bare bones title track “In My Bones.” Jason mixes flavors along the way; providing a jazzy lean on “Sing Right to You,” a folksy vibe on “I Need a Break,” a tropical jazz tone on “If Love Is an Island,” and a bluesy presence on the upbeat “I Quit My Day Job.” Jason impressively works all corners of his acoustic guitar on “Glass,” and effectively uses ukulele to paint the sullen tones of the disc-closer “Maybe It’s All the Same.” Produced by Jason O and his father, John Olcese, In My Bones sounds clean and basic, allowing the nuances of Jason’s voice and instrumental performances to shine through clearly and uncluttered. The simplicity of Jason O’s words, arrangements and performances wins the day, making In My Bones a pleasant, relaxing listen, and a good soundtrack for taking a break from life’s complexities and refocusing. (The CD can be obtained through Jason O’s website,www.jasonomusic.com.)
JONAH WHALE – BELLY OF THE BEAST (Adamsapple Records) Based in Bloomsburg, Jonah Whale has blazed his own path through the course of four albums, developing his own distinctive progressive rock-geared style and sound. On his fourth album, Belly Of The Beast, Whale crafts a sound rooted in the hard progressive-geared frontiers of later Rush, Pink Floyd and Queensryche. Besides creating the music and lyrics, Whale also plays all instruments, and sings with a commanding, charismatic voice recalling peak-era David Bowie. His melodies and arrangements are intriguing and captivating, while his lyrics are clever, thoughtful and often symbolic. Several songs concern struggle and growth through adversity; such as the hard-rocking “Holy Water” and its theme of cleansing darkness and pain, “My Friends” with its message of solidarity and endurance, and the internal battle cry of the brash “Stand Up Inside.” Riding a pulsing, surging arrangement, “Dream” grasps imagination and vision to rise above pain and despair. On the darker side, the metal-geared “Fade” regards surrender and resignation, and Jonah Whale ends the disc by exploring the ups and downs of impending doomsday on the Floyd-flavored “Welcome to the End of the World.” Each song is distinct and stands on its own, with Whale’s creative arrangements and passionate vocal delivery driving each melody homeward. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Whale’s Adamsapple home studio and produced by Maxwell Paris, Belly of the Beast sounds clean, full and powerful. Each instrument carries weight, and the album displays a smooth consistency throughout. Jonah Whale has clearly found his musical identity and vision; Belly of the Beast is powerful, imaginative and confident, and provides a riveting listening experience that demands repeat visits. (The CD can be obtained through Jonah Whale’s website, www.jonahwhale.com.)
“CLYDE FROG PRESENTS BONNIE AND CLYDE” Recorded at Green Valley Recording, Hughsville, PA. Members: Torey Harding – guitar, vocals; Tess Marshalls – vocals; Dylan rockoff – guitar, vocals; Garrett Gaetano – bass; Chris Kohler – drums.
When I got this CD I browed through it and thought, “these five young musicians have great sound and musicianship.” After a phone call, I found out why, these young college age musicians from Williamsport are graduates of the Uptown Music Collective in Williamsport.
Song one, “Burn The Trees,” has a fine jazzy funk sound to it. It’s simple and swings. Then song two, “All six Senses” comes in with Tess on a bluesy ballad with a heavy edge. The two guitars weave in and out around Tess’s vocals. “Friends,” a catchy dance groove tune gets you up. Song four, “Mr. Fast Man” goes back to a funk groove rocking about, “the man”. These four songs are only a taste of the eight songs on this CD. All are different styles of original songs by clyde Frog. A stellar cover of “Down by the River” ends the CD with a bang. This band must be seen live! Catch them live at Williamsport’s Genetti Hotel for New Year’s Eve. Look them up on facebook.com/clydefrog band. You can also download Clyd Frog on Amazon and Itunes. —Reviewed by Keith Hummel.