by Linda Spielman
[editors note: this review was originally slated for Linda's Quick
Hits review series (thus the short length), but since she gave it such
a high rating it was placed here to give it more of a spotlight. We've
included the band's official bio so that you can get to know more about
- Come Again
Falling To Pieces
So Far So Good
Going Rate, The (My Fix)
Keep A Good Man Down
Found Another Way
All Comes Out In The Wash
Lies That I Believe, The
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This debut album is a solid effort both
musically and production wise for Thornley. The Roadrunner label release
has packaged a great debut for the group.
The quartet effortlessly combines catchy
lyrics with equally solid rock instrumental. Sure you could compare them
to Puddle of Mudd or Nickelback only because the listener may need some
sort of musical reference, being Thornley is a new band on the scene. However,
quite frankly they can hold their own when it comes to carving out a musical
niche. We can compare them to their peers, but their style of writing in
particular stands out from others.
From listening to the CD, I noticed a lyrical
fluidity combined with the backing of solid rock chords that I haven’t
heard in a very long time from a band. I was easily caught up in images
and feelings of the music from the first listen.
This CD is good listen. The balance of
tracks makes it also an effortless listen. Future predictions for Thornley...probably
will emerge on the scene in the future with an unforeseen bang like that
"Once you start writing a song, just get
out of the way and let it write itself," says singer and guitarist, Ian
Thornley. "That's the only way to do it."
By "getting out of the way," what Thornley
means is not cluttering every song with unnecessary flash and flourishes,
so that what comes through most clearly is the melody - something simple,
direct and deeply emotional.
"On this record, melody is king."
But the songwriter makes sure King Melody
is kept company by such courtiers as heavy guitar riffs, ass-kicking drums
and emotionally intense vocals on his upcoming opus, entitled Come Again.
"It's what rock music should sound like - simple and to the point, but
of a really high caliber," says drummer Sekou Lumumba. "When we play for
other people, seeing that response - just seeing them with their mouths
open - feels so good. I can't wait for people to hear this record."
For Thornley, this new project is the culmination
of more than a decade's worth of playing and writing. After moving to Boston
to study guitar in the early '90s, the young Canadian began jamming with
a group of American musicians who eventually coalesced into the band Big
Wreck. "I became the singer by default," he says, chuckling. "I was writing
the stuff, and couldn't find anyone to sing it whose voice I could stand
listening to." Big Wreck recorded two albums for Atlantic Records, and
experienced widespread success with the 1998 track "The Oaf (My Luck Is
Wasted)." But as much as Thornley enjoyed the instrumental complexities
Big Wreck's songs afforded him, over time he found himself drawn to a more
direct mode of expression.
"With Big Wreck, we did a lot of experimenting,
taking it outside and bringing it back in," he says. "With this band, it's
just song, song, song. I just want to stack the record with as many great
songs as I can."
He adds, "A lot of it has heavy parts -
and I mean heavy. But it's all in the context of a song, a sweet melody.
To me, that's the most important thing." The range of material is impressive,
stretching from the can't-get-it-out-of-your-head nature of the first single,
"So Far So Good," to the heavy riffs of "Falling To Pieces," to the slow
and beautiful "Lies That I Believe," "a real epic rocker," in Thornley's
words. The solid musicianship and undeniable hooks throughout the material
make each track an 'epic rocker' in its own right.
As for the lyrics, Thornley draws heavily
on his personal life, although only a few are, in his words, gut-wrenchers
- "you know, about feeling all the pressures of life, little things like
that." He smiles mischeviously. "There's definitely a singer/songwriter
vibe going on, except I am screaming it at you. Some of it is screaming
because I've got to get it out, and others because I just like to scream."
"There's a lot of screaming on the record..."
He began work on this new project as Big
Wreck began winding down in 2002, and once signed to Roadrunner Records,
set about turning his songwriting project into an actual band. He literally
ran into Lumumba, a much-in-demand session drummer who was living at the
studio Thornley was using. "I had a writing room, and Sekou was jamming
in the next room," he says. "That's how we met," says Lumumba. "He had
some stuff he needed some drums for, I put them down in a miraculously
short time." Next onboard was the much sought after bassist, Ken "The Worm"
Tizzard and the final puzzle piece fell in place with the arrival of Tavis
Stanley. After working with several guitarists, Thornley decided on this
aggressive young bar-band vet.
While Thornley is excited about the release
of Come Again, he's even more stoked at the prospect of getting out on
the road. "Bruce Springsteen was my first concert - my dad took me - and
I was like, 'That's what I want to do,'" he says.
"I love getting onstage and blowing people's
minds. Because when you have, like, 5,000 people who are all your buddies...
That's a real buzz."
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