\"This kid is the real deal\"
-Village Voice, New York, NY
\"There is only one word to describe this diminutive musician-unbelievable\"
-Jamestown Journal, NY
\"When I hear guys like Randy McStine play, I know the future of music is safe\"
-Cortland Standard, NY
Notes About The Album:
Recorded by 14-year old guitarist Randy McStine (see bio below), \"Second Shot\" is a twelve song instrumental tour-de-force, sweeping through multiple moods and genres at the drop of a hat. Being a guitar-focused
disc, the fear of it being a display of plain virtuosity and \"guitar pyrotechnics\" instead of containing \"music\" is often brought up (and for good reason). This time the focus is on the compositions, arrangements, and melodies, with Randy\'s guitar playing being the sweet and addicting frosting on the beaters. While it certainly sounds like another \"cash in on his age\" gimmick, the music is what will speak for itself, not how many trips he has taken around the sun.
Kicking off the 53-minute album is a faithful re-creation of guitar legend Pat Travers\' \"AMGWanna Kick Booty\", from the underrated and overlooked \"Black Pearl\" album. This sets the tone as a high-octane rock/fusion workout, featuring outstanding playing from the whole band and a quick vocal bit toward the end of the song (the only one on the CD). After the only cover song on the album comes \"Wired Boots\", Randy\'s tribute to one of his biggest guitar heroes, Jeff Beck. This is a cross between the 1970\'s fusion output of Beck, and some of his later 1980\'s work, with Randy adding his own style in with a nod to the legend (he plays the whole tune without a pick like Jeff). \"Sonic Boom\" is one of the heavier rock tracks, bringing out some of Randy\'s progressive rock influences in the composition. It also features some furious drumming from Nate Horton, and some slick and smooth bass playing from Mike Cook, with some lead guitar work in an Alex Lifeson vein thrown in the mix. \"Shifting Gears\" is up next, delivering a cool boogie rock feel with lots of dynamics and bluesy-rock guitar playing. A change of pace comes with \"Vibrant Lights\", one of the softer pieces on the disc. Beautiful piano playing by Bob Twining is featured here, and the song goes from a light, breezy feel to big rock riffing, with the end being a energetic trade-off of solos between McStine and Twining. Back to the hard rock, \"Last Ride\" kicks off with a riff similar to something the late Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads might\'ve written...but then decided to use for a \"spaghetti western\" film. \"Harmonic Rain\" is the most acoustic-based tune, starting with a solo interlude and kicking in with whole band. This one has a lot of tasteful texture in the arranging department with many different guitar tones (acoustic and electric), use of percussion, and rhythmic drumming to bring it to life. Probably the most simple rock tune on the album, \"Snap The Whip\" moves along with a nice mid-tempo groove locked in with Horton and Cook. Bob Twining makes another appearance (this time in the synth department), trading solos with Randy at the end, sounding something like Keith Emerson meets Steve Morse. With a funk-rock meets prog-rock style, \"Funk Yer Face\" hits on many moods. Toward the end is particularly engaging with a cool guitar solo from Randy, followed by some nice double bass drum work from Nate Horton to bring it to a nice climax and resolve. The softer element comes back into play for \"Wyle U Sleep\", but displaying a Pink Floyd meets Led Zeppelin\'s \"No Quarter\" kind of spaciness in the approach and instrument tone choices. The band really pulls together for this one, bringing some unexpected chord changes to the table for satisfying results. \"Choose Your Blues\" is...a blues tune with a hard rock feel. Fine piano and harmonica playing is provided by Don Wilkins in this high-energy stomp. Bringing the disc to a close is the tricky, King Crimson-influenced hard rock tune \"Moodswings\". Strange guitar sounds (a nod to Adrian Belew), and twisty time signatures are all over the song, before the band brings it to a big ending.
If you like a strong balance between good and diverse compositions, memorable melodies, and musicians who know when and (perhaps more importantly) when not to play their instruments to full potential, \"Second Shot\" may be the guitar rock CD you\'ve been looking for. Enjoy!
Randy McStine-Guitars and percussion
Matt Barnes-Vocal on \"AMGWanna Kick Booty\"
Don Wilkins- Organ on \"Shifting Gears\", Piano and Blues Harp on \"Choose You Blues\"
Gary Armstrong- percussion on \"Harmonic Rain\" and \"Snap The Whip\"