I listen to a good deal of music besides what I assign myself for my Sonic Cathedral CD reviews. So in addition to my “book reviews,” I’ll also list off some of the CDs I’m digging right now. First up is…
Year Released: 2005
Genre: Hard rock / modern classic rock
The first time I heard Gotthard’s frontman Steve Lee was on the last Ayreon album “01011001.” He has this strong, charismatic voice that’s raspy and higher pitched than most male voices. This makes him the perfect voice for Gotthard, a hard rock band that’s probably one of the funnest (yes, I’m making that a word) artists I’ve ever discovered.
Gotthard has actually been around for a long time. This Swiss band has been together for almost 20 years and released its self-titled debut back in 1992. So it shouldn’t surprise you that “Lipservice” is Gotthard’s 11th – no, 12th? – album, and boy it’s a good one.
Gotthard’s strong suit is the uptempo rocker track. Not too much adrenaline, just enough to get your foot tapping or your head bopping, but the catchy lyrics and melodies make up for it. Songs such as “All We Are,” “Dream On,” and “I’m Alive” fall into this category, each one having subtle differences from the last. “Lift U Up” is a true highlight – the clapping percussion reminds me a little bit of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and makes it all the more memorable. “Stay for the Night” is another playful romp, this one revved up by some great guitarwork.
Another great song with a slightly slower pace is “Anytime Anywhere.” It’s one of the simpler tracks on “Lipservice,” allowing the lyrics to shine. Everyone interprets lyrics differently, so forgive me if I’m wrong; but from what I’ve gathered, “Anytime Anywhere” is about the wealthy or high-profile members of society and how they think they are privileged enough to get away with anything: “You turn your back on poverty / You got your high society / Call up your friends, you know them all / You’re still immune to rise and fall.” In fact, the lyrics in this song remind me of some of the subject matter in songs written by another classic pop/rock artist: Phil Collins.
Some midtempo tracks and ballads are featured on “Lipservice,” too. Some are stronger than others. For example, the first ballad, “Everything I Want,” is a bit predictable and bland but still a pleasant song. “I Wonder,” however, is to-the-point and bittersweet with its soaring chorus. The closing track, “And Then Goodbye,” is appropriate and quite beautiful. It’s just an acoustic guitar strumming along as Steve sings about finding the courage to say three important words before it’s too late.
Wow, I started this blog entry by talking about Steve’s awesome voice, and then failed to mention it the rest of the way through. *lol* Well, it’s hard to pick a few songs where he’s at his strongest – simply because he’s just that good on each song. If I had to pick, though, I’d say “And Then Goodbye” (for the raw, subtle emotion he delivers), “Stay for the Night” (just ’cause he’s so charismatic on that one!), “Lift U Up” (same reason as with previous song), and “I Wonder.” He comes across as a perfect cross between a singer/entertainer and a singer/artist, injecting emotion and personality in each performance.
So, yes, I can’t get enough of “Lipservice” right now. It’s married to my car stereo, and I think it’ll stay that way for a while longer. The energy and good vibes in Gotthard’s music is so contagious, it’ll pick you up when you’re in a funk. I highly recommend this album if you’re new to Gotthard’s music or if you’re looking for some fresh rock music.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Best Songs: “Lift U Up,” “Anytime Anywhere,” “I Wonder”