CD REVIEW: SIXSTEP - House of Cards
By Cyrus Rhodes - 07/06/2012 - 02:20 PM EDT
Album: House of Cards
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Free Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Experimental, Avant-Garde
Sounds Like: Lenny Kravitz, Rare Earth, Dave Matthews Band, Dr. John
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Time out of Mind
Weakness: Dated Mix and Sound
Orange County, California rockers SIXSTEP just released their latest CD entitled House of Cards in 2012. This is one band that’s making a name for itself playing L.A., San-Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, The Playground Festival and the Hottest 100 Festival. They have opened up for the like of Powerman 5000, and The Young Dubliners. House of Cards was produced by Freddy Scott and mixed by Bjorn Thorsrud.
The CD kicks things off with “Intro” a methodical prelude of sorts that leads you by the hand to Track 2: "Ministry” an upbeat intro piece that serves up Rocking-Ska groove against slamming R&B driven guitar and driving rock rhythm. Track 3 “Get in Line” shifts gears with its smooth as silk flowing rhythm, heartfelt vocals and thought provoking lyrical content from Al Rahn. Track 4 “Time out of Mind” is a sizzling melody that dishes out impressive classic rock groove, against well placed saxophone and slamming Saloon style Piano that peaks and valleys it’s way through to emotional fruition. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of such classic acts like Wild Cherry, Steely Dan, Dave Matthews Band, and even Paul McCartney and Wings, Lenny Kravitz and Rare Earth. The music itself is an impressive blend of Classic Rock, Psychedelic Funk, R&B, and Fusion. You definitely get an unmistakable guitar driven Psychedelic Rock vibe from the catalogue which all the Flower Children will die for. I get the impression Al Rahn and company are having a lot of fun just letting it all hang out via these songs. He’s definitely one of those guys that’s a whole lot of fun to listen to live or in the studio. The musicianship from the band is equally as impressive. I might add his vocal abilities hold their own well with an impressive vibrato and passionate baritone delivery. You will notice lush layers of instrumentation layered everywhere, from impressive solo guitar, amazing harmonies, impressive Hammond Organ chops, Keyboards, slamming Saloon style Piano, Saxophone, Harmonica, lush harmonies built upon a think as brick rhythm scion. This 11 song line up has a feel good groove to it and a musical personality that shines on like a priceless gem. The CD and music is highly original, and quite progressive and dynamic – very much like the Rahn himself. It's fair to say Rahn and company knows how to write you an interesting, thought provoking piece of music. From heartfelt “Iron Tongue’ Apocalyptic Breakfast” to rocking “Klown – Sixstep” and In The Rain” to grooving “Ling’s” to heartfelt “Worm” and “Party For Steven” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with bonus Track 15 “Dead on Time” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
I don’t care about the excessive profanity on some of the pieces to be honest. I can barely hear the solo guitar on “Time out of Mind” – a bit unorthodox. Perhaps SIXSTEP needs to modernize his sound just a bit via a more modern mix. It’s fair to say this catalogue sounds a bit dated with musical overtones popular over 30 years ago and a mix to match. I will add this could be done without compromising the Psychedelic Rock foundation. Some songs are quite winded - but I'll give this last comment a hall pass due to the genera.
From start to finish House of Cards from SIXSTEP is a barn-burner of a release. The music is consistent, uplifting, and extremely fun and entertaining to listen to. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece of music on this entire CD. The writing, playing and singing abilities of Al Rahn and company are rock solid. Last but not least SIXSTEP is one band that’s not afraid to just let it all hang out musically. That's what world class artists do the best.
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