Wow, how much did this improve from last week? I have to admit that my hopes were not high after that mediocre debut, but now that the bands are inside and I saw the format, I was quite impressed.
The set looks quite sharp,
Dominic Bowden is actually a pretty decent host and
Sheila E. looked mighty different than she did last week. But what impressed me the most was the format. The bands get to play one song with a theme and then one original. The original performances are what's going to make or break this show. I'm curious to see what viewers will think of originals. It can be tough to listen to songs you don't know. Personally, I like new music and I like hearing things I haven't heard before. But I also know the feeling standing at a concert listening to music you aren't familiar with. I can't sing along and I really don't know how to react. People can relate to covers. It's harder to relate to the originals.
The other thing with the originals is that if these bands are going to get to perform an original every week, will some of them even have enough material to not duplicate their efforts? I'm sure Sixwire has plenty to carry them through, but how about Light of Doom? If these guys make it to the end, do they have eight to 10 originals they can do? I'll be curious to see that.
I'm also shocked to see that Sheila E. is quite critical. It's not that I wasn't expecting that from her, but when you're used to Paula Abdul showering nothing but praise, you can't help but expect the woman sitting in her position to do the same. I'm excited Sheila's being critical of the bands. John Rzeznik is the one who seems to be almost all sunshine and roses, but even he had a few critical comments as the show went on.
And finally, before we get to the bands, I'm very impressed they get to perform for a long time and do the cover and original back-to-back!
Tonight the bands get to start off with a Dylan cover and follow it right up with an original. So it's time for me to be judge No. 4. In this blog, you're not going to get a line-by-line recap of what the judges say because, well, in the end the opinion that matters is mine (and yours). I'm the one with the vote. You'll get my honest thoughts on the bands and then please tell me if you agree or if you think I'm tone-deaf. So here we go:
Light of Doom - Well, I think I will take some heat for this one, but I didn't like these boys much at all. "All Along the Watchtower" seemed very hurried to me, and the guitarist just wasn't very good. These guys actually impressed me more last week, and frankly I wasn't that impressed then. I love me some metal. I toss the horns up in completely inappropriate places all the time because I have metal oozing in my veins, but this is just tired. "Eye of the Storm" was nothing remotely unique. And they want to be a metal band, but the singer was slapping hands during the song and the guitarist was jumping up and down like he was in
Third Eye Blind. Not metal.
Rocket - First off, I hate to constantly hear things like, "We're just as good as the boys." I know there aren't that many female bands out there, but there are plenty of female solo artists and many of them sell millions more records than male artists. What'd I'd really like to see is an all-female group that conveys that message through the music because these ladies were not even remotely close to 90 percent of the bands making music today. I dislike the vocalist a lot and I think it was the worst rhythm guitar of the night. The guitarist was completely flat in both songs. Actually no, flat in the original and ugly in the cover.
Dot Dot Dot - Their singer Adam looks like a fool. Kind of a mix of
Jared Leto and
Bert McCracken from
The Used. I look at the image and see emocore and I got
Duran Duran. Either way, they sucked. I kind of enjoyed the arrangement on "Like a Rolling Stone" but none of the judges did, so I guess my tastes are a bit unique sometimes. Whatever I did like from them, though, ended with their original "Another Stupid Love Song." The title itself just seems very clichéd to begin with, and there wasn't one part to this, musically or vocally, that I liked. It was the only song of the night that I never want to hear again. The singer is the type of artist I make fun of, so these guys will never be a favorite of mine if they make it through, but looking past that, they just either aren't that talented, or need to pick better songs. (But click on the link above and listen to their MP3. Whipped through a processor, these aren't that bad.)
The Hatch - The band seemed to slip up in the middle on the Dylan song, and for the original it just seemed like they had a ton of energy on stage but for some reason the energy wasn't coming out of the instruments. John was correct too, but there was no hook in their original. That's OK if you're a prog-rock band, but pop bands need hooks. These guys will probably stick around for a bit, but they need to improve.
Cliff Wagner & the Old #7 - Bob Dylan is a really good fit for these guys to start with. I truly like these guys, but this bluegrass just seems so out of place here. I give the judges credit for having the balls to pass this band through, but I just don't think bluegrass fans are part of the 2.0 rating right now. It was kind of a weird and abrupt twist in the mood of the show. Overall, though, I thought they were solid. Not great, but decent. I just can't even remotely imagine how these guys are going to get any votes.
The Muggs - Musically, I think these guys are decent. They are much more rock 'n roll than I would have ever expected from ugly old men. But personally, I have to have the vocals and the guy can't sing. He even admitted that at the end. So to keep my interest they are going to have to blow me away musically.
The Clark Brothers - I almost put these guys in the cool category but there was just something missing from "Maggie's Farm" for me. Maybe it's the lack of a drummer that's throwing me off. I would really like to hear what they'd sound like with a nice subtle beat behind them. The cover just didn't have the right vibe. Their song "Billy the Kid" was good, though. Again, a beat would have been nice, but it was a catchy tune with a catchy chorus. These guys will be around a while.
Denver and the Mile High Orchestra - I thought starting off the show with a super upbeat take on Dylan's "Freight Train Blues" was awesome. I love how tight this band is. I enjoyed the original track, too. "One Time Show" was good, but I did think that the vocalist lost a bit of energy. The band seemed a bit more upbeat than him, but they were still quite solid. It hasn't been long enough since this big-band style died out for it to come back in style again, so these guys are past their time, or before their time. They're just never going to be present time.
The Likes of You - I love this guy's falsetto. John says there's too much of it and you can hear that a bit in their original, but I can deal. The twists they put on Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" were great and you can see exactly why the singer opened for
Hall & Oates. Their original, "Love and Gravity," had a classic Daryl Hall & John Oates feel to it.
Tres Bien! - I don't think the singer quite captured the vocal Olympics in "Subterranean Homesick Blues," but he made a valiant effort. It was a good take on a classic and fit their style very well. Or I thought it was their style, because they surprised me a bit on the second track. Again, I was picturing
The Hives etc and I got more
Marty McFly/Back to the Future. Their original, "Easy to Love Me," was right out of a malt shop. I expected more edge, but at the same time, they were quite good.
Sixwire - How fitting that the major-label act closes the show. All right, that's the last time I'm going to pick on them for that, because they really are good. Unique, no. But I don't see unique necessarily selling country records these days. Their straight-up version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" was excellent and showed me they might have a slight crossover feel as that reminded me of the
Gin Blossoms. Gin Blossoms and
Goo Goo Dolls sort of blend in the same era for me, so this should be a band that John Rzeznik likes. Their original was great as well. These guys are really on point as a band. Again, if I hadn't seen the band and this song popped on the radio I would have probably thought that Rascal Flatts had a new one out, though. That's something that will sell.
Too good to lump in with the rest:
Franklin Bridge - Sick. Just ridiculously sick how good this was. I flipped over their smoothed-up version of "Tangled Up in Blue" despite Dicko saying it was just too much in the arrangement. And their song "Incredible" was just that. I love their style and the singer has the most stage presence of anyone on the show. The singer looks and reminds me a bit of
Prince Paul, who dabbles outside the urban music box just like these guys. Easily my favorite of them all.
So, the first performances are done and this week my vote goes to Franklin Bridge hands down. I would expect to see Dot Dot Dot and Cliff Wagner and the Old #7 going home next week. Cliff deserves to stay at least over Rocket, but I just can't imagine them getting any votes no matter how good they are.
My apologies for the length, but I'm sure this will get shorter as we lose some bands. Let me know what you thought of it this week!
Until next week, friends.
Check out clips from
The Next Great American Band
Online Video Guide.
Wow, how much did this improve from last week? I have to admit that my hopes were not high after that mediocre debut, but now that the bands are inside and I saw the format, I was quite impressed. The set looks quite sharp, Dominic Bowden is actually a pretty decent host and Sheila E. looked mighty different than she did last week. But what impressed me the most was the format. The bands get to play one song with a theme and then one original. The original performances are whats going to make or break this show. Im curious to see what viewers will think of originals. It can be tough to listen to songs you dont know. Personally, I like new music and I like hearing things I havent heard before. But I also know the feeling standing at a concert listening to music you arent familiar with. I cant sing along and I really dont know how to react. People can relate to covers. Its harder to relate to the originals. The other thing with the origi...