[13 July 2011]
On it’s sophomore full-length recording, the Hartford, CT, based Bronze Radio Return (BRR) continues to define its sound. Shake! Shake! Shake! is a well-produced and polished CD that finds the band continuing to move beyond the roots rock leanings of its debut EP. The sound is a clear move toward a more radio friendly, rock/pop sound, yet its is anything but trite, clichéd or overtly commercial. This is hook laden modern rock meant to get souls moving.
BRR seems to be aware of its youth as a band and the uphill challenge it faces of declining recorded music sales, yet it is confident enough to draw fans in with its stage presence. Opener “Down There” gives the record its kick-start with a pounding one-two bass and snare drum beat and chiming electric guitar. It’s a call-out to fans, old and new, to join the band as it plays on a mountainside; “It’ll be just us and the trees, and a little fresh air”, or on the city streets—“Meet me in the city where the streets run down/Gather up the crowd in an empty town”. The title track is a catchy foot tapper that features a steady cadence of hand claps and rat-a-tat percussion that pleads for one person on the floor to lead the way, start moving and the crowd will follow.
Ghosts of the sea haunt this album in several tracks. “Wonder No More” is a melodic sea chantey (catch a wave on the “oh, oh, oh” chorus) that soars along on a rhythmic keyboard and haunting lead vocal—“A mile down the road that the black stones pave/I ran from the sea and got caught by her wave/she took me away”. And “Broken Ocean” contemplates global warming and imagines a water world of sorts with lessons learned the hard way: “When the lesson’s learned and written on a page/I’ll buy the book to watch it burn and save the ashes/For soon arrives an age, a loss of innocence when we get judged in every way/That stops the splashes/stops the splashes”. It’s got a bit of a country and western noir to it with cowboy whistles and gently laced banjo in the background.
The turbulent “Warm Day, Cold War” rides along on a rolling bass groove and spiraling guitar shards, while the too pleasant, poppy tone of the acoustic ditty “Sell It To You” takes a shot at crass commercialism, and could very well be specifically referencing today’s popular music—“It’s something new/Or becoming long overdue/Simon says it’s not what it is man/It’s how its sold to you”. Closer “Sticks and Stones” is a lovely but aching, acoustic guitar and piano ballad that begs of the song’s protagonist to get out of a house and/or town that does nothing but bring him/her down.
Shake! Shake! Shake! Is a fun and enjoyable listen for music fans of any genre, from a band on the cusp of success.