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Artists and Bands

A Year in Review – RRR Staff Weigh In On Their Top Picks of ’09 – Part 1

grammyThe end of the year usually means three things: resolutions, new challenges and opportunities and, of course, lists! Flipping through a music magazine (whether online or in print) at this time of year and not finding a list of the Top 5 This and Top 10 That is pretty much impossible.

So, we here at RRR decided to jump on the bandwagon (after all, we like to give the people what they want!) and bring you the best of the best from the music of ’09, with a twist. Rather than asking staff to fight it out and put together one sole comprehensive list, we decided we’d let everyone sift through the gems (as well as all those painful albums that made you cringe and think “What in the world were they on?”) and put together their own individual Tops.

But before we begin I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year (even though I’m a bit late) and thank you all for making RRR a regular part of your musical intake. (Please don’t leave us in 2010, we love you!)

In Part 1 you’ll find:
1) Top 10 Albums – Stefany Mohebban
2) Top 10 Albums – Bill Sullivan
3) Top 10 Albums (Rock & Metal) – Jon Asher
4) Top 20 Albums (Power Pop) – Aaron Kupferberg

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Features

July For Kings Reunite, Release ‘Monochrome’ and Get Real on the Flaws of Major Labels

JFKIt’s been a long wait for July For Kings (JFK) fans, but the band’s new album has finally arrived! Monochrome, their first CD since reuniting in late 2007, is a return to the band’s signature hard rock sound, which made their 2001 debut, Swim, such a success.

After a break that allowed time for singer Joe Hedges to release a solo effort, Curvature, and some member changes, JFK is now a quartet rounded off by John McGuire (Guitar), Brian Ives (Bass) and Dan McQuinn (Drums).

Recently, Brian and Joe gave The Rock and Roll Report their undivided attention to talk about their reunion, hometown of Cincinnati, OH, disappointment with major labels and the future of JFK.

Q:  As a fan of the first two albums, Swim and Nostalgia, you can imagine my disappointment when it appeared that JFK had broken up. It was great to hear about the reunion – how did it come about after Joe’s solo record, Curvature?

A. JOE: I put out Curvature, the solo album, at a time when I was really uncertain about where JFK was heading musically. I had a lot of songs that were very different from what we were doing with Nostalgia and I needed an outlet for them. After Curvature’s release I had a lot of conversations with Dan McQuinn [and] the more we talked, the more we just felt that we had jumped the gun a little. There was something unfinished or missing from the JFK catalog and we needed to keep going. After Curvature, a lot of my writing became more upbeat and had more energy again and at that point I decided it was best to revive JFK and keep making solo albums concurrently.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: July for Kings “Monochrome”

july for kings monochrome webJoe Hedges has reassembled his Cincinnati-based modern rock band, July for Kings, to deliver a highly anticipated follow up to 2002’s “Swim” and 2005’s “Nostalgia”. Unlike his darker and sonically intricate solo effort (“Curvature”), “Monochrome” is a welcome return to the melodic hard rock that made “Swim” one of the best (albeit underrated) albums of the decade in that genre.

For the unacquainted, July for Kings is similar to Matchbox 20, but with more punch in the music and more poetry in the lyrics. While “Monochrome” does have its more artful and experimental moments, the vast majority of the record is straight-up rock and roll from the heart. Hedges, who sounds a bit like Brian Vander Ark (Verve Pipe), comes across as earnest as ever, performing some amazing vocal gymnastics, He has also recruited some ace musicians who are on the same page (John McGuire, guitar; Brian Ives, bass; Dan McQuinn, drums). The chemistry of the new ensemble is evident as they effortlessly blend the thunderous guitars and drums with delicately tasty melodies.