Two Shots of Rye – Hooks On Tape
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: March 8, 2008
In this week’s episode of “Making Connections: One Boy’s Attempt to Link Himself With Talented Strangers,” we find our hero, Blake Solomon, explaining his reasons for continually reviewing albums made in bedrooms or living rooms or bathrooms or backyards or…
I got an email today asking for my opinion on something because I’m “in the industry.” What was I doing when this little ego boost found its way into my inbox? I was shopping for khaki pants and penny loafers with my mother. Then I mowed my grandparents’ lawn. Shortly after that I read random Wikipedia pages. (Spring Break ’08: The hits keep coming.) “A Coward’s Lullaby” might have been written and recorded in similar circumstances. I’m not implying Two Shots of Rye dress like preps on crack, but I’m saying real life was caringly shoved aside to make Hooks On Tape a reality. Despite the fact that this band has talent and I just pound my hairy palms on a keyboard and hope words come out, we’re not so different. I’m not sure what industry we actually belong to, but I would love if you’d join our ranks. Our motto could be: "C’mon mom! Meatloaf again? I’m moving out! Stop cheering! That was a test, mom. Now I’m really moving out." It needs work, but I’ll have to fix it later. It’s time to go clean the gutters.
What an annoying paragraph.
Two Shots of Rye is like the pop-rock you thought doesn’t (or rather, can’t) exist anymore. They are the new incarnation of bands you equated with a life full of possibilities. You’re probably too jaded to believe such things, but “Eight-Nineteen” is a summer smash. A playful riff and smooth vocals from Mike Podwal ready the listener for 12 songs of big choruses, friendly wailing and accessibility. All of those things are cliché, especially on this site, but when did that stop you? “I’ll Always Be Running” is a bit darker, but its vocal harmonies are oh-so-sweet. The song’s soulful guitar solo makes me think about what Cartel could do if they stopped shaving their pubes into dollar signs. “Guess I Believed” isn’t Mike Podwal’s swan song since this band will release more music, but the way he dances around low notes and a high falsetto is good enough that he could just stop here and call it a career. Podwal is reminding us that the nasally vocal strain of his peers isn’t the only way to get a point across.
“The Longing” is an obligatory, but worthwhile, acoustic ballad. Thankfully, the song features enough dynamic shifts and drums to avoid being easily cast aside. Everything on Hooks On Tape may have been done in one form or another before, but in my opinion, improving a well-known formula is just as good as creating something completely new. There’s steep competition to judge a summer-ready pop-rock release against, and Hooks On Tape holds up.
I tend to only mention the singer’s name in these review thingys, but Ariel Podwal (guitar), Dane Sannicandro (bass) and Andy X (drums) know a thing or two about writing a song that gets lodged in your brain’s pleasure center. Crisp guitars, excellent production values and fun-fun-fun characterize Two Shots of Rye most effectively. If the acoustic guitar accents and driving rock verses of "The Perfect Alibi" don't do it for you, just quit now. Let’s hope the “real” “industry” takes notice soon.
Recommended If You Like: Third Eye Blind, Elvis Costello, happy-go-lucky phone conversations, Gillmor, funny tattoos
sweet review Blake...rating seems a little low given the words of praise, but awesome that you gave it some recognition.
Just make the rating a little higher...if you ever want to see your dog again...thats all i'm saying.