Welcome back to The Rock Show, where it’s all about the music! Today I’ll be taking a look at an album that I picked up recently, The Gracious Few’s self-titled debut.
I picked up this album over the Thanksgiving holiday and have listened to it in full since. Not surprisingly, I found it to be fantastic. Of course, considering The Gracious Few is 3/5 Live and 2/5 Candlebox, I already had high hopes going in. Both bands are awesome rockers, so naturally I figured The Gracious Few would be excellent. I was not disappointed. So far I’ve played two of the songs from the album on The Rock Show: “Silly Thing” and “Closer.”
The album opens a bit slowly with “Appetite,” a song with a minute-long build-up that ends with a really catchy riff. The song quickly gains momentum from there, with a very modern rock sound taking over. Definitely a solid track to open the album. The next track is “Honest Man,” easily one of the best on the album. The song is aggressive from the very beginning and really showcases the band’s tight sound. The chorus gets right in your face as most modern rock does these days, but holds back on the screaming (as does the entire record). The beginning of the chorus skips a beat, which might sound a bit awkward to listeners who are more accustomed to standard rhythm in rock songs, but it really shows that the band is musically creative. That’s a good thing!
“Guilty Fever” is the next track on the album, with vocalist Kevin Martin singing in a fairly high voice. The difference in vocal style does make the song stand out, but (while I don’t dislike it) it could be a turn-off to some who don’t care for high-pitched vocals. The guitar solo shows that modern rock bands still know how to play lead, something that a lot of modern bands seem to be forgetting. The next song is “The Few,” which features Kevin Martin returning to his normal Candlebox voice and the rest of the band keeping the tradition of catchy riffs and driving beats. There’s something very classic rock about this song, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Either way, it’s definitely a highlight of the record.
“The Rest of You” is a bit of a departure from the straight in-your-face rock sound that the album opens with. It’s not a slow or quiet song by any means, but it definitely cuts back the riffing and loud vocals. Some may consider it a bit poppier, but overall it still stands as a solid rock song – some clean tone here, but plenty of distortion in the chorus, which is a bit more sing-along than the others have been. “Crying Time” continues the more power-ballad sound that the record takes. The chorus is another catchy one with sing-along vocal melodies, but the guitar solo here really rocks. This one’s about five and a half minutes, which (on a modern rock record) usually means it’s more of a ballad type song anyway. Despite that, it still holds its own on the record and only adds to the versatility.
“Silly Thing” is the next song. It’s one of my favorites, and in my opinion really mixes the sounds of Live and Candlebox perfectly. Before the vocals start I could totally imagine it as a Live tune, but once Kevin Martin starts singing it is clearly recognizable as Candlebox. The simplicity of the chorus works simply for its nineties feel and vocal melody, which really works for the song. The bridge section is really where the tune shines, though, and the guitar solo complements the song perfectly. Definitely one of the best on the album. “Closer” comes next, and it’s definitely a return to the hard rock style from back at the beginning of the record. It starts quiet and quickly builds up to an explosive chorus. A simple yet effective tune.
“What’s Wrong” brings the band back to the slow side of things, and it’s definitely the slowest song on the album up to this point. It definitely keeps the nineties feel that’s been faintly present throughout the album, but it is a successful attempt at a slow song that still packs a considerable punch behind it. “Tredecim” is the next song, and it too starts off slow, but with the foreboding feeling that something’s coming. When the chorus arrives it gets loud, but doesn’t ever really break. Overall, I’d argue that this is a fairly expendable song, but certainly does have its place. It fits well, but apart from being “that song in ¾ time,” it really doesn’t do much to stand out.
The next track is “Nothing But Love.” Again, this song starts off a bit slow but builds up to an in-your-face chorus. This song gets right back to that nineties-but-also-classic rock sound that’s all over the album and is definitely a solid track. “Sing” changes things up a lot, with a surprising but welcome modern alternative rock sound, for a while almost reminiscent of recent efforts by Kings of Leon. The solo is unmistakably modern rock, and the song itself blends the two sounds together seamlessly. Definitely another one of the best songs on the album.
While “Sing” appears to be the closing track, there is a hidden tune after it called “All I Hear.” The song is another fairly typical fast-paced rock song with a driving chorus and catchy lead guitar riff. Not much else to say about it; it fits well with the rest of the album and doesn’t disappoint as a bonus tune.
Overall, it’s a solid effort, especially for a debut album. The Gracious Few are definitely showing the world that they mean business – they’re not just some collaboration of artists who don’t know when to hang it up. While it isn’t surprising that members of two of the best nineties bands would form an excellent “super group,” the album is still surprisingly consistent for a modern rock record. Definitely an album to consider the next time you’re in a music store.
Side Note: The Better Than Ezra show is tonight at the TLA! I’m not going, but if there’s enough information out there tomorrow (set lists, reviews, etc) then I’ll make a post about it.
~The Rock Show, where it’s all about the music! Keep listening!