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Around Our Town...Music to My Ears

Flyleaf: Self-Titled

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05/01/2006 - Take a second to look at my picture. Okay. Now forget for a moment that I'm an old guy wearing a cowboy hat and a Carhartt chore coat. Picture me with hair down to my shoulders and a Metallica t-shirt. I know. Impossible. Well, my friends, once upon a timeÖ

The beginning of the end of my rock and roll guy days started with the loss of my hair. I broke down and bought a pair of clippers when I started looking a little too much like Ben Franklin. I shaved off the hair, and eventually stopped wearing concert shirts. I found my old cowboy boots, blew the dust off of them, and slid them on. Aaaahhh. It felt so good and right. It was then that I remembered my upbringing and regressed to the guy you see in the picture. Here's the thing, though. It's like the old saying goes, you can take the boy out of the heavy metal, but you can't take the heavy metal out of the boy.

So don't be shocked when you read this. It's just that I couldn't help it. I couldn't pass this one up. In the present glut of nu-metal bands, i.e. Staind, Mudvayne, Slipknot, Linkin Park, Puddle of Mudd, Evanescence, Trust Company, Saliva, 12 Stones, Blindside, Chevelle, Alter Bridge, 3 Doors Down, Disturbed, Fireball Ministry, Full Devil Jacket, etc., it's pretty tough for a band to distinguish themselves, especially since there seems to be some sort of mechanism in the music industry by which record labels and rock bands mimic success to the point where everything that hits the radio sounds alike. How many times have you turned on the radio and heard a really great song, but could not identify the artist if your life depended on it?

This is why I'm so excited about Flyleaf. They rock. They're infinitely accessible. They're different. They're thought provoking. They're talented. And did I mention they ROCK? I nearly drove off the road the first time I heard this band. I bought it at my favorite record store (a little bohemian enclave on Center Street, but I won't mention names) and put it in the disc player when I hit the interstate. I was instantly awestruck.

The singer, Lacey Mosley, is unbelievable. She vacillates between breathy, girlish sweetness, ferocious anger, and flawlessly delivering hooky rock star anthemic choruses like it's no big deal. The band plays with all the requisite power we've come to expect from the new metal movement, but there seems to be a little something extra here. Maybe it's passion. They bring a sense of urgency and energy to these songs, which is something I find missing on a lot of the formulaic rock records that are hitting the shelves these days. I don't know. There is some kind of intangible rock magic that out there that's hard to describe. Some albums just have it, though. Good examples from the distant past would be releases such as Def Leppard's High and Dry, AC/DC's Back In Black, Guns and Roses' Appetite For Destruction, Alice In Chains' Facelift, and Creed's My Own Prison.

Musically, the band is brilliant. Very heavy, with catchy hooks and just enough quirkiness to avoid being run of the mill. The opening of the first track, "I'm So Sick," will leave you breathless. You are lulled to sleep by Lacey's little girl intro, then assaulted by her brutal, thrashing ferocity, then brought along with one of the most catchy choruses I've heard in a long time, or at least until the next track, "Fully Alive." The guitars blend majestically with punchy drumming and gut-bucket bass to create an absolutely infectious concoction of rock and roll purity. There's not a single throw-away track on the whole cd. No reason to hit the forward button, though you may want to be going backwards a lot.

Now, back to Lacey. She was raised under very tough circumstances, and has sort of been there and done that when it comes to struggling to live and searching for normalcy. Despite this, she does not wallow in her past. She acknowledges it, and sings now of redemption and hope. In fact, all the songs here are thinly veiled poems of faith and inspiration. Sit up and pay attention, parents. If you want to blow your kid's minds, go pick up a copy of this disc and present it to your teenaged child. Listen with them to "Cassie," a song about the girl in the Columbine incident who refused to deny her faith in God, and paid the ultimate price for her loyalty. That should fuel a good discussion about values and commitment.

In the event you're not very intuitive, let me make it plain. I highly recommend Flyleaf's debut full-length release. If you're a kid and you like heavy music, trust me on this one. If you are a parent trying to understand what makes your kid tick, listen in. You just might learn something.

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