I realize that every reviewer of the debut album by Valdez will type the following but whatever. “This” is the debut album by Valdez. Get it? Whatever. So who are Valdez? Besides being fronted by the very talented and very clever Simon Godfrey (of Tinyfish and Shineback), the band also has Echolyn bassist Tom Hyatt along with production from Echolyn guitarist/vocalist Brett Kull.
Since I’ve been a huge fan of Echolyn since 1995, I’ve really been excited for “This.” That and I know Simon is quite good as well! Simon sounds fantastic vocally on the whole album. Also, there’s no denying the presence of Echolyn DNA throughout the entire album, but it’s clearly a perfect mix of what Simon can do with a melody and the playing of the entire band. Think 10cc jamming with Todd Rundgren and you get the idea. Keyboardist Joe Cardillo particularly stands out for me and always seems to know what a song needs keyboard-wise: piano or synth or whatever!
Rather than start with the praise (of which there is a LOT), I’ll mention the things I don’t care for. Other than the great instrumental break in it (Hooray, Tom!), the track “Colorado” is the lone dud on the whole album. It’s not terrible but it just seems listless compared to the rest. But I do wish at times there was a little more up tempo moments like the opener “Black Eyed Susans” which kicks just enough ass to make for a great opener. “Sally Won’t Remember” is a little sleepy but it still works.
Yeah that’s it for my complaints as they are. Highlights are everywhere. The album has an incredible epic closer in “Smile For the Camera” which not only has an awesome melody but also affords the band to stretch out musically. Another favorite of mine is “No Stone Unturned” which in an alternate universe that actually has taste, the song would be a massive hit and Valdez would be incredibly wealthy.
“This” is a great album. I am still not tired of this pun and I don’t see myself getting tired of THIS album either. I had high expectations going in and Valdez delivered the goods. I hope the band is not just a side project because they are way too good at what they do to be relegated to that! “This” is damn good and you need to check “This” out. Okay, right…enough of that.
- Black Eyed Susans
- Sally Won’t Remember
- Spite House
- Little Keys
- No Stone Unturned
- Driving All Night
- Smile For The Camera