BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS
by D.W. Lundberg

Saturday, March 23, 2013

... FOR "BIG DREAMS AND BOUGAINVILLEA" (AN ALBUM REVIEW OF LUCID 8 AND "AMERICAN EYESORE")

And now for something completely different here at FTWW... a full-on CD review of American Eyesore, debut album from local-band-makes-good Lucid 8. Drummer Jonny has been one of my closest friends for as long as I can remember, and I know he and the guys poured their hearts and souls into the project, so it pleases me to put in a plug for them here. (And, yes, I am fully aware of how self- serving that sounds.) Now excuse me while I try my hardest to sound like a rock critic...

When we're young, we all dream of becoming rock stars. It ranks up there with being a superhero, or an astronaut - surrounded by millions of adoring, screaming fans, worshipping at the altar of your very existence. Yet how many of us actually get to do the things we dream about? Breaking into the music business, believe it or not, can be just as difficult as learning to pilot the space shuttle or adopting super powers. For every artist that makes it, though (Imagine Dragons and fun. [formerly The Format] are recent examples, and even Belgian-Australian singer Gotye dabbled in the avante garde for nearly a decade before gaining international success with "Somebody I Used To Know"), there are literally hundreds who don't - timing, talent, and good old fashioned luck all playing a key factor in any artist's success.

The five members of Utah-based Lucid 8 (above, left to right) - lead vocalist Eddy Williams, bass guitarist Charles H. Lilly, lead/rhythm guitarists Andy Craddock and Iann L. Murray, and drummer/ keyboardist Jonny Craddock - have been skirting that knife edge of success for the better part of the last three decades. Between them, they've fronted nearly a dozen different rock groups and garnered the support of many fans (not to mention countless friends and family members). Together, since their formation in March of 2010, they continue to play locally, in clubs, concert venues, even last year's 4th of July celebration at Sugar House Park, SLC, with over 10,000 people in attendance. Their 2011 EP showed promise, and their first studio album, American Eyesore (Midnight Records), looks to be the breakout hit they've been waiting for.



My first impression of American Eyesore is that it's a genuinely good listen - so if that's all you're really looking to hear, you should click over to their website and purchase a copy now. (A brief summary of their melodies and lyrics will follow after this paragraph.) The band's bio at ReverbNation compares their sound to EVE 6, 3 Doors Down and Everclear, among others, but I would say Lucid 8's signature guitar riffs and percussion date even further back, to the likes of Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Queensr├┐che, plus a little Red Hot Chili Peppers tossed in for good measure (best evidenced during "Out Of The Dark," track 11). In other words, they appeal mostly to 80's heavy metal hair band devotees, as well as to fans of the darker "punk" aesthetic that defined the alternative rock in the 90s.

Sonically, American Eyesore continues the time- honored tradition of many rock 'n' roll records of the past (rampant drum and guitar solos, near- acoustic love ballads alternating with edgier rock songs), while adding some subtle distinctive tweaks all its own. An eponymous 98-second instrumental piece opens the album (Van Halen and ELO were fans of the epic instrumental intro), segueing directly into "Moment To Moment," an energetic, percussion- heavy track showcasing Williams' Chad Kroeger/Eddie Vedder-ish vocal stylings. This is followed by the relatively downbeat "Blue Tuesday," an oddly-conceived anti-establishment anthem ("The weekend's over I see / It's in the books now, for me / And I'm paralyzed") with a decent melodic verse but a flat and forgettable chorus. Tempo picks up again during "Alibi" (track 6), which soars on Murray's rousing mid-song solo guitar, and then again during "The Rain" (track 9), Eyesore's centerpiece single, which, believe it or not, makes memorable use of the word "Bougainvillea" (yes, I had to look that up). The album, in fact, actually improves as it goes along, with songs ("You're Not Broken," "River Wild") that should feel right at home on mainstream radio. (The 14th and final track, "Blind World," features bass guitar by friend and former bandmate Ron Clegg, who committed suicide in July 2000.)



Lyrics-wise, the album falls a little short. While some lines clunk ("I wouldn't trade a moment with you / for all the riches in the world"), others lack the grace and gravitas the guys were probably hoping for ("Don't be so surprised if I show you / the deepest secrets of my soul / In you, my beautiful / I'm gazing at your heart of fire and love"). Eddy, Andy, Jonny, Iann and Charles alternated songwriting duties throughout the album, which may account for its lack of a unifying theme. Sound mixing is also sharp if inconsistent, with guitar parts sometimes drowning out the younger Craddock on kick drum, snare and hi-hat.

And yet, despite these (minor) flaws typical of so many debut recordings, American Eyesore stands as a firm announcement of Lucid 8's distinctive signature sound. Though they undoubtedly play better on stage than they do within the confines of a cramped studio setting, it's hard to resist the album's infectious improvisational tone, like sitting in on a jam session between your musician friends. Both together and apart, Eddy and the boys have long since paid their debt to rock 'n' roll society. American Eyesore is a testament to this fact. It's their time.

Grade: B

Lucid 8 plays (unplugged) at the Bar Deluxe, Salt Lake City, on April 5th. For legal reasons, I was unable to link the appropriate mp3 samples to this post. But you can listen to track samples from Eyesore and their aforementioned EP here.


TRACKLIST:                     
1.  American Eyesore (1:38)    
2.  Moment To Moment (3:18)    
3.  Blue Tuesday (4:29)        
4.  I Don't Know (3:44)        
5.  Love Song (5:24)           
6.  Alibi (5:21)               
7.  Fire And Love (4:50)       
8.  Mirrors (4:15)             
9.  The Rain (4:39)            
10. You're Not Broken (3:21)   
11. Out Of The Dark (4:38)     
12. River Wild (4:07)          
13. Money (4:26)               
14. Blind World (5:55)         

2 comments:

  1. Nice review Darin. You hit the nail right on the head. It's funny some of the song lyrics you mentioned that you didn't feel hit the mark are lyrics that I've always told Jonny needed to be rewritten. I guess great minds think a like. Again great review, and I completely agree that it is Lucid 8's time to shine.

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