CD REVIEW - Dr. O and the Hangsters - Chez Janine
By Rick Marchetti - 08/05/2007 - 08:44 AM EDT
Artist: Band: Dr. O and the Hangsters
Album: Chez Janine
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Sounds Like: Nobody and Everybody
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7.5/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 8.5/10
Best Songs: Hey Hey LA, Valentine 2005
Weakness: I'll give you a nickel if you can find one
Dr. O's new disc, "Chez Janine" is a lot of fun to listen to. It's one of those rare albums that works on a couple different levels: The lyrics are worth really paying attention to, but the music is cool enough that you can enjoy the songs without thinking, too, if that's your thing. Most stuff I hear works on one level better than the other; that's not the case here. The brilliant lyrics are every bit as good as the brilliant music and vice-versa.
I said Dr. O sounds like "nobody and everybody". Let me explain. He uses common elements in his songs; I heard percussion that made me think, alternately, of Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, and Gin Blossoms, but the songs themselves veer off into unchartered -or, at least, unexpected- territory. The music that's layered over the beat is not always what you're expecting. His melodies are just complex enough to hold your interest without getting bogged down with unnecessary theatrics. Some writers fall into the trap of trying too hard to write something unique and it sounds contrived. On this disc, you feel as if you know where you're headed.....sort of. And just when you get comfortable with the pop/rock that he does so well, Dr. O throws some jazzy interludes at you, with "City" and "Valentine 2005". Even "Espana" is something of a curve ball; while I was listening to the intro I almost expected to hear Linda Ronstadt's voice. The music is at once familiar and unknown. What a cool quality to have in your writing!
Dr. O, also known as Hank Oviatt, is a talented writer, singer, and guitarist. This disc is probably the freshest-sounding thing I've heard in a long time. Writing reviews, I get to listen to a lot of music, and there's a lot of it I love, by some really talented performers. This album, though, while really, really good, is also different, which is a rare -and welcome- quality. If I had a third thumb, I'd throw Dr. O "three thumbs up", but, alas, I can only give him two. Great job, Doc.
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