Music

Sister Hazel: Chasing Daylight

Andrew Ellis

Sister Hazel

Chasing Daylight

Label: Sixthmans
Amazon
iTunes

Clearly, the members of Sister Hazel don't agree with the sentiments expressed in Sheryl Crow's "A Change Can Do You Good", and the Gainesville, Florida quintet's fourth album demonstrates this perfectly. The band found success in 1997 with their major label debut album, Somewhere More Familiar, and the breakout single "All for You", and their brand of highly melodic pop-rock helped them shift over one million records. Even though Sister Hazel are out on their own after splitting with Universal Records, Chasing Daylight shows no sign of a change in direction.

Undeniably middle of the road, yet filled with powerful hooks and choruses, the album's consistency and honesty epitomises Sister Hazel's hard work ethic, and although it is by no means perfect, it can't be denied that Chasing Daylight is vastly preferable to the abomination that is Hootie & the Blowfish's latest eponymous album. It's actually a pleasant listen if this genre is your thing.

Opener "Your Mistake" is classic Sister Hazel, and deviates not a jot from the sound the band has crafted since 1993, with its strong, familiar chorus, clean, safe production from Don McCollister, and typically impassioned vocal delivery from singer/songwriter Ken Block. Ground-breaking, innovative, and experimental it most certainly is not, but I'm certain the band's loyal following will ferociously argue that there's something to be said for homogeneity, and it's clear the band has heeded such advice to give 'em what they want.

But then again, Sister Hazel never pretend to be anything other than the predictable, consistent band they clearly are, and if, like myself, you're sucker for a warm, inviting melody, then the rest of the material here will not disappoint. Instead of the usual two or three stand-out tunes on previous albums, the band has clearly gained a new lease on life since becoming an indie once again, as the album as a whole will be enthusiastically received by the band's fans.

The epic "Life Got in the Way" opens with a U2-esque guitar intro and develops into a heartfelt, solid rock tune, sharing a similar sense of urgency and melody with the excellent "Come Around". "One Love" is perhaps a little too clichéd and contrived in the lyrics department, with its refrain of "One you / One me / One chance for us to live / One you / One me / One love", but there's a sincerity to the song (as well as one hell of an infectious hook) that leads you to forgive such crimes.

"Best I'll Ever Be" and "Killing Me Too" are the album's obligatory ballads, but despite the schmaltz, they are undeniably good examples of the genre. Elsewhere, Sister Hazel continue to play to their strengths on the frenetic "Swan Dive" and the trademark pop-rock of "Effortlessly", but for some reason they deviate momentarily from the norm to try a little hint of reggae in the god awful "Everybody".

Of course, there's a reason why bands like Sister Hazel no longer have major label recording contracts (and listening to "Everybody" is as good a reason as any), but despite their unfashionable image, there is still a healthy number of people out there who will appreciate what Sister Hazel bring to the fore on Chasing Daylight. Yes, it's formulaic, predictable, and safe, but when it respects what the band's core fans demand and expect (and is highly melodic), you can't argue. Sister Hazel will clearly never scale the heights of national attention that "All for You" brought them in 1997, but in their own back yard and surrounding area you sense they will always be supported by a body of fans that recognize in the band the same values they hold dear in their everyday lives.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image