Top marks for Vacua from reviewer G.W. Hill

Leaving the listener wanting more

Review of Strummindude’s album “Vacua”, by G.W. Hill

This is a particularly strong disc. It has music with a wide range of sounds and styles. That, along with the quality and consistency that make it flow together, means this should have a pretty diverse and large potential fan base. There are moments that are set in country music. Other things land in alternative rock territory. The closer is almost progressive rock and there are metallic moments. Yet, it all works exceptionally well together.

As the drums lead into the opening “Twice In a Million,” the other instruments lend a real blue rock kind of vibe. When it kicks into the song proper, though, there is more of an alternative rock element. This song feels both modern and classic in tone. It’s quite an effective mid-tempo number.

String Theory” has a lot of jazz and blues built into it. It’s much more of a classic sound based piece than it is modern. It’s energetic and has some excellent vocal performances and hooks. In some ways it calls to mind Steely Dan just a bit. The guitar sound (not really the notes, so much) feels a bit like Brian May’s work at points. The guitar solo on the closing section, though, brings some country to the table.

The tempo and power gets revved up for “Needle’s Eye.” The song is a hard rocking tune that almost borders on heavy metal. It has a particularly catchy hook and a great blues driven rock sound. The guitar soloing on this cut is particularly inspired, as well. It is one of the best pieces on the disc.

Time to Heal” is much more of a ballad. There is an anthem quality to it. It definitely has quite a bit of country in the mix, too. It’s a pretty song, and an effective one. It’s also a needed bit of variety and a breather.

Somehow “Voluntarily Disparadised” has a bit of a grunge vibe. It’s definitely built around alternative rock. It’s also quite a catchy piece that combines mellower sounds with more rocking ones. There are some intriguing musical interludes built into it, too.

Morning Glow” is another ballad. It’s more of a rock song than a country one, though. There is both a modern alternative rock element here and some hints of Beatles like music. This remains mellower than “Time to Heal.” It’s quite infectious, really.

As good as the rest of the set is, the best track was definitely saved for last. “Event Horizon” is intricate, evocative and almost progressive rock like in the way that it builds from extremely sedate beginnings to rocking territory. Even though this is an instrumental, it’s packed with more emotion than anything else in the set. This one is worth the price of admission all by itself. The guitar soloing really speaks to the listener.

It seems that every song here would work pretty well as a single track. Yet, the disc flows nicely from start to finish. It never repeats itself at all. Still, it feels stylistically connected throughout.

Finding flaws with this is just about impossible. The production is solid. The songwriting is effective. The vocal and instrumental performances work quite well. Although this isn’t Earth shattering in terms of breaking new artistic ground, it never really feels derivative of other artists. This is a unique release that stands tall on its own. Perhaps if a person were to work really hard to find a shortcoming, it would be the length of the set. It ends before it seems done, really. On the other hand, leaving the listener wanting more is not necessarily a bad thing.

Artist: Strummindude
Title: Vacua
Review by G. W. Hill

Rating: 9 (out of 10)

GW Hill

GW (Gary) is a musician and has been a music fan since a young age. His main musical interests are in progressive rock and heavy metal, however he enjoys many other types of music. He has been writing for quite a long time, having worked as a freelancer for such publications as All Music Guide. Hill also wrote for G4TV scripting interactive content for the “Cops 2.0” television show. Hill’s book The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft was published in 2006. He’s also published a book of short stories entitled “Strange Realities.” He’s working on a book about musician and music fan and in the planning stages for a revised edition of the Lovecraft music book. He created Music Street Journal (musicstreetjournal.com) in February of 1998 as a means of covering the music that he enjoys.

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