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REMEDY (2003)
Remedy - Click to view!Longtime friends Tracie Ferrie and Quinton Gibson would probably be the first to tell you that timing is everything. Following a stint as high school bandmates during the mid-1980s, Gibson left the duo's home base of Evansville, Indiana, to pursue a music degree at Indiana Wesleyan in Marion. Gibson and Ferrie reconvened briefly in 1992 to play on the self-titled sophomore project for hard rock quartet Seraiah before once again parting ways to pursue a host of live and studio-based opportunities with different groups.

Enter New Jersey Native Rick Wilson who happened to hear a copy of vocalist and lead songwriter Luke Brown's early recordings by way of a mutual friend and flew to Nashville to jam with Brown. Sufficiently encouraged by the results, Brown called on Ferrie, whom he had known for three years, to join ranks with Wilson and himself. Ferrie, in turn, reconnected with Gibson and pulled him into the band. A quickly-assembled demo caught the ear of Warner Bros. Records who signed the foursome in the spring of 2003.

Perhaps more than anything else, the debut outing shows the Strange Celebrity collective to be the owners of an above-average musical agility. Songs like "Back to Life" distill shimmering, Byrdsian guitars, soaring harmonies, and can't-miss melodies into a decidedly refreshing musical mixture. "If I," in the same way, takes the yearning, sugar-sweet vocals and hook-laden tunefulness of artists like the late, great Seven Day Jesus to their logical conclusion. The infectiously driving "I Can't Breathe" hints at a slightly more pop-inclined Stone Temple Pilots. And the best-of-album leadoff track, "Free," sounds like nothing so much as the boys from BBMak accidentally tripping across the distortion pedal and liking the results.

Thematically, the record is split fairly evenly between the spiritual and interpersonal aspects of the human condition. The man-to-God petitions of "Rise" and the aforementioned "Free" ("Come, my escape / 'Cause I try to scream, I'm hearin' silence / Begging, someone help me") take on an added urgency against the group's fierce, yet focused, instrumental attack. In the same way, Brown's soulful, multi-octave singing voice instills tracks like "Back to Life" and the equally poignant "Dangerous" ("She gives you wings to make you fly / Shatters your world with just a smile / She's all that one could dream") with a palpable sense of heartache and longing.

In fairness, Remedy's underlying pop-metal inclinations will probably either raise listeners' eyebrows or send them scurrying gleefully for their Bic lighters, depending on how old they were when they heard their first Dokken song. Indeed, while those who came of age during the nascent days of MTV will likely embrace the album wholeheartedly at first listen, those weaned on the muddier, more ironic strains of '90s alt-rock may require a few additional spins to fully appreciate its mostly straightforward grooves. Musical preference aside, though, the Remedy release stands quite nicely on its own merit, taking a place as one of the more consistently engaging rock-related efforts to hit the shelves in recent months.
- Bert Gangl
January 2004
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