Sound: The Well is the second album by powerpop band from San Diego, CA, Waking Ashland. Their debut full-length Composure, released at Tooth & Nail didn't gain much success except for appearing at the end of Top 20 of some New Artists charts. With such mediocre results and after loosing two band members Walking Ashland managed to survive and even release a sophomore album, though on different record label -- Immortal Records this time.
The CD starts promisingly with an upbeat Salt Lake Jam and bluesy guitar. Unfortunately after that track the album get repetitive and trite. Everything is so major-chorded, mid-tempo and radio-friendly that it gets boring on the third song. All songs follow the golden rules of radio play -- they are foot tapping and sing-along. Besides the sound is very clean and polished -- what a discovery for any radio station! Piano by Jonathan Jones is the best thing about this album. Sometimes it even saves the song, sounding Elton John-influenced.
The band can't decide if they want to sound a little bit more alternative rock or a little bit more cheese pop. The songs feature rock guitar hooks and catchy pop melodies. The lead single from the album Your Intentions is one of those more alternative rock tracks. It has multi-layered guitars and crooning vocals. In the track Money the band creats an atmosphere of jamming live performance that was so popular in the 90s sounds of people talking and clinking glasses. Laidback piano-based Diamonds On The Hillside presents Waking Ashland at their best, carrying vintage '70s vibe. // 6
Lyrics: Sometimes the lyrics sounds quite all right, but most of the time quite cheesy, like ridiculous She's like a caterpillar who crosses the road but it doesn't even know, obvious You're never gonna stop /Letting people down unless you change /Yeah, it's easier just to stay the same or trite Think of me when you fall asleep /I promise you you'll never be lonely. I think the band had hard times trying to come up with the words that rhythm and that are simple enough for a catchy song. Well, at least they get what they're aiming -- it's not easy to get rid of some tacky line like If they don't wanna let you, I'm not gonna make you change -- it gets stuck in your mind forever.
Jonathan Jones' vocals are a lot like the lyrics -- mediocre in general and not remarkable in any way. His way of singing has the same heard that before stamp, though after all he carries his vocal duties fairly well. // 6
Overall Impression: All the way through listening to The Well you wish to add more spices to the music. The production is too soft and the band is very careful in expressing their emotions as if afraid to reveal some shameful truth. The music is well put together, but often clichd and you can't get rid of the feeling you've heard it before. After the first few predictable tracks I was hoping for a good tear-shedding ballad these kinds of bands are usually good at, but not in this case. There actually is a ballad in the middle -- Mark Like Mine, but instead of being romantic, it's hopelessly boring.
The bad thing is that after listening to the album you realize you've hear an identical record by some other band not less a month ago and even worse -- you know you're gonna hear something very similar by another band shortly. Which makes all next listens pointless. Ok, guys, it's been a good try, but think twice next time before releasing an album -- is it worth it? // 5
- Kosh (c) 2007