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Jan 13, 2011

With all due respect, as much as I love my singer-songwriters and my indie bands that make up such a large portion of the guests on this show, every once in a while, it's great to just kick back with a hard rock/metal band and just let 'er rip. After four and a half years of doing this, I of all people, should know better than to have pre-conceived notions about what any performer is going to be like when you meet them off-stage -- there have been many fun variations on this theme over the years. It wasn't until meeting September Sky, however, that I realized this can also drastically change the way you view and listen to the band's music.

September Sky's debut EP, Bright Skies to Dark Days, is a strong starter out of the gate, no doubt about this. Six tracks run the gambit of more straight-forward hard-partying rock (Freakshow) and progressive metal (Awakened), with occasional dips into the darker side (Ted). I initially liked it the CD for this musical diversity and the way it conveys various emotions through both music and lyrics (blah blah blah) -- "surprisingly sophisticated" was my initial assessment. After meeting the band, and I think it is captured in this show, I realized that what I really liked about the CD is how well the band plays together as a unit. I suppose actors would call them very "giving" artists, but it just doesn't sound right in the context of a hard rock/metal band. The point being, here are four guys who are all very good at what they do, but unlike a lot of their contemporaries, the emphasis is very much about what's good for the end result, and not so much about the individual. We all know, from a song like "Give it Away" that Larry Crag can write and play killer up-front riffs, but at the same time on a more-emotional track like "Ted," he understands its more about Scott Bernhardt's primal vocal performance, and he very wisely sits back just a bit so as not to compete with it. Likewise a track like "Shine a Light" is all about the rhythm section of bassist Jeff Reagan and drummer Martin Baker, and while on that track in particular, all four members are firing on all cylinders, nobody's individual performance is overpowering the band as a hole. Which makes it all the more ironic that when you sit the four guys down to do an interview, they are completely drowned out by a hardcore metal band doing a sound check at the other side of the venue -- so, sorry about the audio in the second half of this one. You should have heard it before I cleaned it up.

Links referenced in the show: