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Chris Marsol

Butterflies, Lipstick & Hand Grenades

(Hiero Imperium; US: 30 Mar 2010; UK: Import; Online Release Date: 20 Oct 2009)

The most interesting aspect of Butterflies, Lipstick & Handgrenades is that it appears on Hiero Imperium records. The label is best known for underground hip-hop acts such as Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics, so a straight-up rocker like Bay Area product Chris Marsol is new territory. You have to commend Hiero for wanting to expand its scope, but, unfortunately, Butterflies, Lipstick & Hand Grenades isn’t likely to expand its prestige.


Marsol’s voice, a passionate instrument that recalls Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson at his least histrionic, is his greatest asset. But he’s put that voice to work fronting mostly faceless, often wanky fusion-rock. The playing and recording are immaculate, but the songs recall more of an American Idol castoff than a genuine up-and-comer. Yes, it’s time to bring up that most dreaded of fusion-rock least common denominators, Lenny Kravitz. When Marson scales back the chunky guitars and gets into a bit of a groove, he’s better than that. Too much of Butterflies, Lipstick & Hand Grenades, though, sounds like “Album Oriented Rock” radio circa 1993.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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