Album Review by Bluebird.
The Villains: Velocity
The Villains are an upbeat, contemporary rock band with talented artists, well versed in classic rock techniques and country vibes. For this second album, Velocity, they are backed by a powerhouse production team, including Stan Lynch who worked to produce Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Don Henley. Billy Chapin (Backstreet Boys, Edwin McCain) is also on the production credits, as well as John Kurzweg (Jewel, Creed) on mixing.
Record Label: Toucan Cove/Universal Music Group
Release Date: February, 2012
From The Villains’ Biography~
In the spirit of acts such as The Band, The Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac, the blend of different singers and styles solidified the sound rather than compromising it. Their first album, ‘Just Another Saturday Night’, yielded two Triple A charting singles, ‘Let’s Forget About It Tonight’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Say’, both co-written by Sheryl Crow and Don Henley guitarist, Peter Stroud. The record was a critical success and the band toured opening for Blues Traveler and Sister Hazel through the end of the year.
After months of writing and rehearsing, they entered Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville to record their second record, ‘Velocity’. They once again enlisted the help of Peter Stroud as well as A-list songwriters such as Tom Douglas (Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw), Stan Lynch (Don Henley, The Eagles), Richard Feldman (Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker), Josh Leo (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama), and James House (Dwight Yoakum, Martina McBride).
Meet The Villians:
Magno- keys, guitars, vocals
Dan Call-bass, vocals
Mike Wilkes- guitars
Sean McNally- drums, vocals
Jimmy James Schmitt- guitars, vocals
Track By Track:
1. Cadillac- An opening guitar riff puts this second album from The Villains on the right track toward blending rock, country, folk and popular hooks. Southern charm takes you for a stylish ride, as the story of spontaneous romps beyond the railroad tracks unfold. Harmony vocals, on this song and throughout the album, bring lighthearted joy and operate as a great contrast to the bad-boy guitar edges and moonshine drinking escapades.
2. Rainy Day Girl- The ‘Sun Records’ t-shirt in this video was a great sign of good things to come with this band. The video to this record sets off beautiful imagery of innocent love found and sought again and again. The rhythmic, ethereal flow of the beginning chords that weave through, reflecting Don Henley’s sound influence, while allowing The Villains to grow into their own style. Back up vocals show a vulnerable side of these multi-faceted musicians, and their willingness to take on many different roles within this band. “Rainy Day Girl” has staying power, regardless of the weather. The song makes the point. It reflects a lingering craving for that once in a lifetime experience to be recreated after it’s passed. Love may not have a replay button, but luckily, “Rainy Day Girl” can be programmed to ‘repeat.’
3. I’ve Got A Feeling- With this song, the opening riffs sound like Tom Petty and immediately draw you in. but the following arrangements have a more country feel, especially with the deeper vocals. The Everly Brothers’ sound was mixed into the track with some two part harmonies, twelve string guitar and verses. It grabs you and pulls you into different directions.
4. Don’t Know A Thing-This song was originally on a Ringo Starr record years ago. Shifted, with band members to get it into a ‘Villain’ mode, the momentum they gained rocks the house. The harmonies and blending of sounds are a throwback to great American classic singer-songwriter rock.
5. This Is Nowhere-The band mentioned Springsteen and Rolling Stones’ influences here. What I heard, was a Jay Ferguson/Thunder Island rumble, an in your face quality radio-rock mix, framed by strong guitar lines and understated vocals. With strong harmonies, The Villains are always telling a story.
6. You’re The Only Right- Featuring mandolin by Michael Wilkes and lead vocals by Dan Call, this was one of my favorites on the record. This song slows down the record, using acoustic skill and soulful nuances. Some of these lyrics can apply to many meanings, “My soul’s on fire/ I’m a desert in the rain/The picture on my mind is bigger than the frame/I’m a bit confused/Why you looking away/Light turned to white, now fading to gray.”
7. Down For The Last Time- Jimmy James Schmidt’s, first holler on lead vocals, belted out a great straight heavy rock track, elevating this album a few notches to undeniably LOUD. Wilkes’ edge guitar solo of metal meets punk, plowed through the roof, giving the Villains their respected name. We’ve got some bad boys here, no doubt about that.
8. Bourbon Angel-The guitar riffs have a North Mississippi Allstars blues-rock, Stones vibe, and spins off to an open tune anthem that turns out to be really a lot of fun. Gettin down to basics, the Villains set out to create some old fashioned country ruckus and set the stage for their influence on this rump shaking tune.
9. Adelaine- Written by Michael Wilkes, Jimmy James Schmidt and Dan Call, this song adds great texture to the record. Always getting lost and talking to the voices in her head … can the main character in this song be captured by the comforting voice that keeps this country track warm, accepting and engaged? Probably not. He talks her off the ledges again and again. Things are ok, ‘for now,’ he says. The clever realism of some personalities, the people, the relationships they engage in, and the unconditional acceptance of this, is inspiring. The Villains set out to promote spontaneous free thinking in their music, and reflect this spirit with the love of the “crazy girl with the restless soul” in this song. Great picking too!
10. Now You’re Free- Magno took on this ballad with a strong vocal, underlined by elegant piano pieces. A beautiful homage to letting go, with grace. The Villains show their range of talent by diversifying the song offerings here on Velocity. Listeners will anticipate a ‘what will they do next’ energy with every album in future projects.
11. 747- Marshall Tucker and The Eagles’ sounds show influence on these recordings, as The Villains rock it out in the bulls eye of their comfort zone. This is the type of music that they seem to enjoy playing best. They take us for a ride and we are all the wiser for buying a ticket!
12. Heartache, Whiskey and Beer- Many reviews have stated that this sophomore album is showing how the Villains have ‘grown’ into their own sound. Like great storytellers, this paints snapshots of rowdy times on the road. With easy to chant refrains and fun lyrics, I can hear this track becoming a pub anthem.