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Candlebox – Candlebox

The Pre-Preamble:

What with all the posts about birthdays, anniversaries, cupfaces, vacations, the ALS challenges, site updates, work-out mixes and street signs, I haven’t actually posted an album review here since August 23. That’s over a week of content without a music review. That may be a KMA record (pun intended)! Let’s rectify this oversiiiiight, shall we?

The Preamble:

Today I was feeling nostalgic for my university days. I couldn’t tell you why, but that’s how the brain works sometimes, I guess. Scrolling through my iTunes, this was the first of the likely choices upon which I chanced. And it’s an excellent choice.

Released only two months before I began classes, this Seattle band was everywhere when I hit campus. They got huge play on the ‘alternative’ station out of Detroit, 89X, and I bought the CD at Dr. Disc downtown. Somewhere along the line I sold off that copy, but it is once again in my collection and I’m glad of it.

The Album:

Don’t You rocks hard, with big guitars and a heavy bottom end. Change (a single) teases us into thinking it’ll be more atmospheric and then boom, the 90s quiet/loud thing. This track swings, and has a huge guitar solo. You, of course, is a single you’ll know well if you listened to rock music at all in 1993. It’s slinky and, of course, it rocks hard too, anthemic at the chorus.

No Sense slows things down a bit, but it hits with no less oomph. This one is very bluesy, and allows the instruments to really stretch their legs. Love the guitar solo here. Far Behind is, of course, the huge single off this record. You know it. I don’t need to say more.

Blossom tricks you into thinking they might actually try to pull off a love ballad but, of course, eventually it becomes another big rock out track. It’s quite an excellent song. And Arrow is just straight on rock. I always loved this song, right from when I first heard it. It’s easy for me to imagine this one live, just killing it (and I don’t have to try too hard, I have them playing this song live on the 2CD Woodstock 94 set, and it smokes).

Rain was always my favourite album track, though. It’s straight up blues that becomes the big rock tune before shifting into a really funky shimmy thing that just keeps on pummeling. It’s a survey track of all of the band’s sounds, and I just love it.

Mothers Dream does the 90s quiet/loud thing again, also with great aplomb. I really like the steady, throbbing bass line of this song – it holds it all together. Cover Me, a single, is a brilliant song. Finally the band breaks out the acoustic guitars and play a pretty thing for a while. In keeping with the rest of the record, of course, it doesn’t last. Soon it’s a full band mid-tempo rock song. Yum. And the last track, He Calls Home is a perfect album closer. Slower, with a message, and sounding great in my good headphones. In truth I’d forgotten about this track, as it’s been so long since I played this, but I really liked it here and now.

In sum:

Kevin Martin’s vocals are instantly recognizable and, in fact, the entire band is exemplary and a real pleasure to hear. This is straight-up great 90s rock. It’s a shame that they got lumped into the Seattle sound and scene, with far different bands like Pearl Jam, Alice And Chains and Soundgarden. They sound nothing like any of those, really, and they suffered in the comparison. This band stands well on its own, and this debut record is a monster. Get it.

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