Sound — 6
I guess one of the main problems with rock bands now is that there's one big star -? Nickelback. And doesn't really matter how good the band is, it is always gonna be compared to them. It's almost impossible to see where the group got their original sound that just sounds like Nickelback and where the guys are just copying them without any imagination. With this band ? Vancouver rockers Default - it's almost like a hopeless case ? not only everybody's comparing them to "the big brother," but their CD "One Thing Remains" was out about the same time as Nickelback's new album. Plus, the lead single from the album "Count On Me" was co-written by Nickleback's Chad Kroeger. But I think the record is worth giving it at least a fair listen. Everything else depends on you music sophistication. "One Thing Remains" album itself is 100% radio-friendly record and is full of "born to be popular" four-chord, three-minute rock songs. Default got a talent for good melodies, which is very rare among young bands nowdays. Another best thing on the album, is guitar riffs. The band's guitar player Jeremy Hora admits he's never done so many guitar parts on an album. That is producer Bob Marlette's merit -- with experience of working with Tracy Chapman and Black Sabbath, Marlette brought some if his "rock-making skills" to Default's music. You can feel it even in the ballads -? like in "Finding My Way Out," that has sharp-sounding guitars combined with beautiful melody line to create a "macho" sound. "Hiding From The Sun" is the "hardest" song on the record with strict drums and wild energy. There are lots of guitar hooks along the tracks and melodies are simple and catchy -- you would find yourself singing alone the songs even during the first play.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrically there's nothing special ?- common "real man's" songs for lonely girls' hearts -? subjects that work all the time, no matter how you say it -- tribute to lost love, heartbreak, "you can always count on me" those could be one of the best things you've ever heard if they weren't sung before a million times. The choruses are mostly listenable and you're even not ashamed to sing along. But the versus is where the author's brilliant thoughts are hiding. Like "...the rain comes and goes" ?- that's a very new statement noone's heard about before. Or "Don't stop the rain from pouring down" from the same song "All Is Forgiven" ?- I mean, even if you want to, how can you possibly stop the rain?? I do realize it's an allegory, but a very primitive one. What recoups all those cheesy lines is Dallas Smith's vocal -? strained and sometimes gritty voice. He sings that with such passion that you almost believe him.
Overall Impression — 7
Even though "One Thing Remains" is Default's third album, there're no signs of maturing. Their debut album "The Fallout" with help of Chad Kroeger was a break out. On the sophomore release they tried to go "solo" and it turned a letdown for the band. Now seems like the guys gave up trying to invent anything of their own apart from successful Nickelback and are trying to have at least a part of their popularity (gave up to the point asking Kroeger to co-write songs). The band calls it a "statement album," but I'm not really sure what they're stating with that... With music sounding most of the time like a lot of other "riff-rocker" bands, Default gets lost in all that "variety." Dallas Smith said the band was reinventing themselves for the album. Well hopefully the current album is not an exponent and the band will be able to move over the stereotypes of power rock and create their own seal. "One Thing Remains" is not gonna change anything either in music world or in your mind, but still it's full of beautiful melodies and is a very nice record to listen to from beginning to the end.