Classic New Rock
Every week, I receive a lot of new music to review. It's either a link to a stream or video, a download, or an actual disc in the form of a CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and occasionally vinyl. I love to get the physical product, as it's called these days, because I'm old-school and proud of my vast, continually growing collection. Sometimes, however, it gets a little out of hand, and there simply are not enough hours in the day to get to everything. As a result, I miss a narrow window (when the release is new and fresh) to review certain records — especially records that I eventually get to and end up loving. Such is the case with Joey Sykes' Classic New Rock.
If you're unfamiliar with whom exactly Joey Sykes is, you only have to look as far as the Babys. The band, which enjoyed moderate success in the late 70s, reunited in 2013 with original guitarist Wally Stocker and drummer Tony Brock, and recruited Sykes as second guitarist. As it is, Sykes is a singer and songwriter in his own right, with a couple of solo albums under his belt. Classic New Rock, his second album, was released in early 2016. If you think Sykes' records sound anything like the Babys, guess again and prepare yourself for a pleasant surprise.
The 13 tracks on Classic New Rock are a mix of with savory hooks, melodic verses, catchy choruses, reflective mid-tempo alliances, and tight playing. The opening "That's American Life," "I Go There," "Finish Line" and "In Case You Wanna Know" are all welcoming invitations to the party, while slower cuts like "It Ain't Easy," "Someone Like You," "He Never Cried" and "I Broke My Baby" are suitable examples of Syke's panache for depth and snug arrangements simmering in harmony. It isn't all sugary sweet on Classic New Rock though, as "Everything Must Go" brandishes a grinding, edgy riff asking for fists in the air, and "Just Like Us," the final song, burns with an ethereal flame too hot to ignore.
Covering the Raspberries' 1972 hit "Go All The Way" illustrates the influence that Big Star, Cheap Trick and other power pop bands of the 70s have on Sykes' songwriting, guitar tones and vocals. As he strives for recognition in the Babys, makes inroads in Nashville as a tunesmith, and provides music to television and movie projects, Sykes lets Classic New Rock capture the essence of his talent and craft as an intuitive artist angling the torrential waves of the 21st century music scene. However late my review may be, I'm glad I didn't let this one fall through the cracks.
~ Shawn Perry