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CD REVIEW: Dan Kern - 1977
By Cyrus Rhodes - 03/13/2013 - 02:53 PM EDT

Artist: Dan Kern
Album: 1977
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Blues/Roots Rock
Sounds Like: Black Crows, Led Zeppelin, Meatloaf,
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Cold Wind, Though we Knew the Way, More Better
Weakness: Short sided CD
CD Review: Uniquely influenced as much by his New Orleans roots as playing on the club scene in Orange County, California with several different bands over the past decade, singer/songwriter Dan Kern on his compelling full length (10 track) debut harkens back to the pre-Pro Tools and auto tune days when everything we heard on a rock record was raw, real and intimate. He named it 1977, the year of his birth, not only because its vibe is a contemporary twist on the classic rock of that era—but also because all the bands he loved growing up in the 90s (from Phish on down) drew their vibe from that same “real music” aesthetic and timeless sensibility. Since moving to SoCal just over a decade ago, Kern has developed his songwriting and performing chops in different capacities with bands that ran the gamut in styles and allowed him to explore his own versatility. Black Bird Sky, some of whose members are featured on 1977, was “Southern friend hard rock a la Led Zeppelin and Black Crowes” and Face of Adversity was hard rock/metal. Though he has played numerous OC hotspots over the years—including Gypsy Lounge, Bosco’s and Hennessy’s in Laguna Beach (with another band, 30 Million), Kern found it difficult to keep four or five great musicians together for any serious length of time. Over the past few years, while trying to make bigger things happen with these bands, Kern has amassed a small catalog of recording-ready tunes—and 1977 grew out of his decision to hunker down and start recording them as a solo artist, enhancing the production with some of the great local talent he has worked with over the years. “I’ve made some solo efforts before,” he said, “but this is the first set of recordings that I have been brave enough to try to sell.”

The CD kicks gets off the ground nicely with “Cold Wind” a smooth flowing intro piece that serves up slamming blues rock groove against walking bass lines, effective harmonies and soulful melody from Kern and company. Track 2 “Quietly”  keeps thing moving in the right direction with heartfelt vocal delivery from Kern with steady flowing acoustic guitar rhythm, well placed percussion and hooky chorus making for an impressive follow-up ballad. Track 3 “Wedding day” is another impressive groove that dishes out rock steady rhythm, impressive and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic R&B, Americana, with brief touches of psychedelic Rock of the early 70’s. Music is reminiscent of classic Led Zeppelin, Cream with brief splashes of The Black Crows and even Meatloaf and The Rolling Stones. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive horn sections, harmonica, impressive solo guitar, well placed percussion, Hammond Organ chops and lush harmonies layered everywhere. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to singer Kern - as for his vocal abilities well – he’s amazing! His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully & unobtrusively with a timber that is simply infectious. I suspect some of his vocal influences are – Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) Chris Robinson (Black Crows) and even Meatloaf. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board. This CD from Kern delivers 10 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music of L&P has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From heartfelt “Strawberry Hair” to upbeat “More Better” to rocking “Six Tears” and “Thought We Knew the Way” to melodic “Hurry” to grooving “Want to go” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 10 “Kat Corbett” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.   

I normally dedicate this paragraph to any weaknesses discovered. As you can see the is absolutely nothing to report. In fact this is the best CD I’ve heard so far this year - PERIOD.

From start to finish 1977 from Dan kern is an amazing collection of music. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of Kern and company are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old fashioned no holds barred R&B Rock swagger. Last but not least the vocal presence of Dan Kern is breathtaking, infectious and has the voice of legends.

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