Single Review: Analog Heart – “Not Good Enough”

Single Review of Analog Heart: “Not Good Enough”

Analog Heart frontwoman Liz Bills has an exceptional voice. Identifiable but familiar. And the male-female vocal blend on Analog Heart’s new summer release, “Not Good Enough,” is very Starship-esque. Think funky Starship, though. Replete with hooks, crunchy-funky guitar, and power vocals.

Analog Heart - Not Good Enough

image courtesy of Analog Heart

This single follows along the same path as Analog Heart’s last CD, Sun Here I Come, reviewed in the Blog a little more than a year ago. But “Not Good Enough” has a light, sunny sound not exactly like anything found on last year’s full-length release.

The vocal interplay is exceptional on this song, intricately woven, playing back and forth in spots. The powerful guitar crunch adds plenty of emphasis, yet the music pulls back on the bridges to showcase the vocals. And, of course, there’s a classic rock guitar solo that’s structurally well-placed to move the song forward.

In a perfect world, all of the local pop, rock, and hit radio stations would jump on this catchy song from one of Boston’s most complete melodic rock bands. Regardless of when and where Analog Heart finds airplay, though, its fans will welcome this as a stellar new addition to their collections. And if you don’t already count yourself among this group’s legion of fans, this is a perfect song to start with.

Looking Ahead

Analog Heart has a few upcoming dates listed on the tour page of its website. You can catch them Sunday, September 3rd at The Raven in Worcester, MA; Friday, September 8th at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence, MA; Saturday, September 9th at Andover Day in Andover, MA; Saturday, September 23rd at The River Ruckus in Haverhill, MA; Friday, September 29th at The Chit Chat Lounge in Haverhill, MA; and Sunday, October 8th and the Rock & Lowell Fest at UnchARTed in Lowell, MA. Obviously, see the band’s website for additional details and new shows as they’re added.

Album Review: Analog Heart – Sun Here I Come

Analog Heart

photo by Shivohn Fleming; photo courtesy of Analog Heart

Analog Heart – Sun Here I Come

Backstory

I first heard Analog Heart late last summer at Worcester’s stART on the Street festival. I rocked through the band’s entire set, grabbed the download card the band was handing out for “Merrimack Jane,” and drifted away. This was during that period of time during which I had committed to launching Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog but was still keeping it quiet. As time passed, “Merrimack Jane” became a staple of my personal playlist, so when I assembled a list of bands I wanted to contact to offer reviews, Analog Heart was on that initial list.

The band’s backstory began in 2010 when singer Liz Bills placed a craigslist ad and connected with guitarist Jesse Cohen and drummer Austin Ferrante. In 2012, the band recorded its debut, self-titled album. That same year, Liz entered American Idol and made it to the Hollywood portion of the show, placing in the women’s top 30. The trio added backup vocalist/rhythm guitarist Guy Jerry in 2015. And they’re all joined onstage by “Greg,” the prerecorded bass tracks that have solidified a revolving-door bass player situation.

Album Review of Analog Heart: Sun Here I Come

Analog Heart - Sun Here I Come

image courtesy of Analog Heart

Distorted guitar hooks and power rock vocals. Analog Heart’s songs are much more than that, but those key elements are where everything starts. At its best, the band churns out songs that boom, rattle, rattle, and rock! (Yes, they rattle twice.)

The album cover sports a psychedelic look that meshes well with the first impression Analog Heart made when I caught last summer’s festival set. And, indeed, this disc blends a ’60s/’70s classic psychedelic rock flavor with a modern alt-rock vibe, hard rock power, and some down ‘n dirty swamp-rockin’-boogie guitar licks.

Sun Here I Come kicks off with rock ‘n roll authority. First is “Whoa,” a rollicking number that thumps, rattles, and rolls its way right from the get-go. It’s followed by “Merrimack Jane,” which adds a bit of Southern rock outlaw flavor to the mix.

Analog Heart

photo by Shivohn Fleming; photo courtesy of Analog Heart

By this point, the speakers won’t stop shaking, and it’s obvious guitarist Cohen and Bills may have discovered a modern, somewhat crisper, 2010s spin on Skynyrd-meets-Joplin with a hint of Hendrix-meets Ann Wilson thrown in for good measure. With Ferrante’s pounding drums and Jerry’s steady rhythm guitar rounding out the group (with, of course, “Greg”), Analog Heart is a barely-contained explosion whose music would fit well in a black-lit basement rock club or a weekend-long festival.

Analog Heart slows it down a bit, as well… to what most bands would call mid-tempo. In fact, there are a few mid-tempo songs on the disc that really stand out for me. Aside from the first two tracks, the other three I carry with me on my phone are: “Let It Go,” a song with a slow-build buoyed by a slick opening rhythm, Bills’ insistent vocals, and Cohen’s well-placed distorted guitar licks; “Try to Get Along,” which grabs the listener with catchy, distorted guitar and crisp, clear, emotional vocals; and “Sun Here I Come,” which again pairs powerful vocals with a monster guitar hook. The trend? Yes, guitar shredding with powerful vocals. That’s rock and roll.

Now, if you insist on a sensitive touch, there is a ballad on the album, “Like a Dream,” that showcases the powerful-yet-sensitive side of Bills’ pipes, though even while enjoying a beginning-to-end ballad, you can still feel the barely-restrained energy that’s what puts the “power” in a power ballad. But when “Like a Dream” is over, put your lighters away because Analog Heart is unabashedly a rock band. And songs like full-octane rock-fest “Flickering By” and “She’s Rock and Roll,” which mixes psychedelic and power rock, will remind you if you forget.

Analog Heart

photo courtesy of Analog Heart

At risk of stating the obvious, the power of Bills’ vocals and Cohen’s guitar licks, combined with the band’s ability to write songs that showcase those exceptional skills, ensure Analog Heart has an opportunity to be a festival, club, and arena favorite; the band’s albums (if Sun Here I Come is any indication) should appeal to modern heavy alt-rockers and psychedelic rockers alike. I’m looking forward to hearing a lot more from this talented ensemble in the future.

Live Gigs Ahead

Analog Heart lists four upcoming shows on its website: Saturday, June 11th at ONCE Lounge in Somerville, MA; Friday, June 17th at Luthier’s Co-Op in Easthampton, MA; Saturday, July 25th at the Byfield Music and Arts Festival in Byfield, MA; and Sunday, July 10th at Great Scott in Allston, MA. This is a great live band; get out to a gig if you can!