CD Review: Hurtsmile / Retrogrenade
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
It’s been three years since the release of the 2011 debut album from Hurtsmile that introduced to the rock world the first ever Cherone brothers (Gary –Vocals and Mark-Lead Guitar) musical compilation of straight up rock ‘n’ roll diverse in its musical content and ambitious in its lyrical approach. Add in a world class rhythm section with Joe Pessia (Tantric, DramaGods) on bass guitar and Dana Spellman on drums and Hurtsmile is all set to pick up where they left off.
2014 aims to be the next chapter in the Hurtsmile saga and fans can expect the same approach as last time but with a harder edge, more tongue-in-cheek humor and a creative bond and maturity not usually seen with an act about to release its sophomore effort. Once again working with the legendary Bob St. John on board to mix and master and Hurtsmile’s own Joe Pessia who engineered, Retrogrenade is destined to take its place amongst 2014 most ambitious new releases.
Diversity is something Gary Cherone has always prided himself on and Retrogrenade will be no exception. With tracks like the rocker “Rock & Roll Cliché”, the funny, quirky Marx Brothers inspired “Hello, I Must Be Going” and the acoustic love song “Sing A Song (My Mia)”, Retrogrenade has something for everyone. “I think long time fans of Extreme and newer Hurtsmile fans will enjoy this record for the same reasons we had such a blast creating it,” Cherone told TWRY. It’s a fun filled collection of great rock songs with an old school flavor but at the same time focusing in on current day issues such as the track “Big Government”. Fans of Cherone’s solo effort Need I Say More (2005) will certainly enjoy the feel of “I Still Do”, similar in spirit but a bit more up tempo in style.
Writing from the heart and drawing from personal experience is the strength of the unit that is Hurtsmile. No better evidence of this can be heard than on a track such as “A Melody For You” which relies heavily on lost love. Hurtsmile will never be accused of a band that doesn’t like to take chances. For example the track “Wonder What” where Mark takes on the task of both lead guitar and lead vocals. While somewhat of a departure in terms of the style found on most of the album it does provide fans with yet another side to the Hurtsmile mystique. Having covered the Elvis Costello track “Pump It Up” on the first tour to rave reviews it seems as if “Wonder What” plays right into Hurtsmile’s strength, which is allowing for a true band project and not just a Gary Cherone solo act with his brother as a hired gun.
Retrogrenade exploding online and at a download location near you. Visit PledgeMusic for a free download of “Rock & Roll Cliché” and pre-order the disc and check out their record release party on Oct 11 at MIXX 360 Nightlife in Malden, Mass.