Tenspoke Indies - The Best Band the World Hasn't Heard (Yet)
"Blinded by the Sound" is the "true" debut release from the curiously-titled Tenspoke Indies, a band which had been around for several years by another name, Harry Dash (or HarryDash). (Last year, when Tenspoke formed, they repackaged HarryDash's 2005 effort, "Momentum" and retitled it "Watch This". This 16-song CD is still excellent, with many great songs, including "Angela", "Someone Else", "Sugar High", "Tank", "Spies", and a host of others, written during the HarryDash era of the band.)
The new CD, "Blinded by the Sound" shows a maturity in songwriting, performance, and production unmatched by any of the previous HarryDash albums. This could very well be the CD and songs that break out this band to the wider following they truly deserve.
I have been following this band and its founder, Richard Wise (who also happens to mix/engineer the recordings), for several years now, and it is refreshing that an independent band can stay at it without major label backing and continue to produce some of the best original music in rock that you're likely to hear this year (or maybe the next).
Songs like the almost AC/DCish "Lights Out", the funky "Need You Now", the Stone Temple Pilotish "Make Me Want You", and the all-out rocking title track show the bands penchant for writing guitar riff-based rock that harkens back to 70's monster-riff bands such as Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith (but without sounding dated), where a single repeated guitar line is the hook that drives the song (sorely missing in today's rock bands), yet has lyrics and a chorus and bridge with an emotional punch that classic rockers and young listeners alike would embrace.
I love the mixture of instruments and the experimentation with different sounds. Keep the tamborine and the subtle cow bell coming, guys! Just the right mixing touches on some of the best songs!
I'm happy that Rich and company have gotten back to their roots in terms of the lead guitar. Abandoned in the last couple HarryDash CD's, Tenspoke Indies "Blinded by the Sound" is filled with guitar solos - tasty, not too long, but just the right amount of blues-rock virtuosity and feel to add to the songs.
Other radio-ready standouts are "Over Your Shoulder" (the lyrics and sing-along melody which gets me emotionally every time I hear it) and the Beatlesque "Starlighter", which has a great acoustic guitar line and melody that just soars!
Rich's voice is stronger than ever, and I appreciate the fact that he has gone against the grain to not sing either with an attitude or anger that seems fake or with an emotional whisper that is over done - two trends which bother me. Instead, like bands like Sherwood, Switchfoot, and Relient K (3 of my favorite bands), Rich has an identifiable voice and just flat-out sings the great melodies that he and his band writes, and doesn't need to hide behind any extra effects, over-compression, reverb, or a slurred vocal. They keep vocal effects to a minimum, but throw them in on occasion for a little twist. Rich also isn't afraid to throw in a little falsetto or a scream or two for emphasis.
Compared to the Foo Fighters' (who generally I love) and Velvet Revolver's new discs, who they have been compared to (and rightfully so, sound-wise), I would pick "Blinded by the Sound" hands down - I think the songs are stronger than either of those bands newest efforts.
Hats off to Rich, Josh, Stephen, and Richie - you guys have put together one wail of a CD, the best I have heard in rock music (signed or unsigned) in the last few years!