Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The James Emmett Band “Bet Against Me”

Ever since the band The Outsiders had their first taste of celebrity status when they released the song “Time Won’t Let Me,” the last name of Geraci has meant something in the city of Cleveland as Emmett Peter “Sonny” Geraci was part of that band. And although Sonny Geraci passed away back in early February of 2017, the name is still being mentioned in association with music in Greater Cleveland. But this time, it’s the next generation of the family that is making the noise, so to speak.
Sonny Geraci’s sons Justin James and Mathew Emmett have picked up the music bug and are currently making music just like their father used to do. In fact, they have been creating their own music for years. However, it’s just recently that the two brothers have been doing so together. And together, the brothers have created their own band; a band that features their middle names to form the band’s moniker. The group is called The James Emmett Band.

To bring The James Emmett Band together, guitarist/singer Justin James Geraci and drummer/background vocalist Mathew Emmett Geraci called upon other musicians to complete the lineup. Along with the two brothers, the rest of the group consists of: Chris Heltzel on Background Vocals/Guitar, Creston Heltzel on Guitar and John Kovacic on Bass.

Just like Sonny Geraci and his various musical outfits created music were known for making music that was current with that era’s styles, so too do his sons. The band’s music features a large amount of Rock and Roll influence with other current influences thrown into the mix. The resulting feel of the band’s music would easily fit onto today’s Hot 100 radio formats as well as any Hot A/C formats. Together, the group is currently celebrating the release of a new five-song EP. The new release from The James Emmett Band is entitled Bet Against Me.

Bet Against Me from The James Emmett Band begins with the track “Back of My Hand”. On the track, the brothers seem to say that they don’t take themselves too seriously as the lyrics to this song state: “I know the back of my hand like the back of my hand”. Once the listener gets past the somewhat humorous line (or “groaner,” depending on how you look at it), the track features a slow pace to the music that initially brings to mind the style of Jack Johnson. The track then picks up a slightly orchestral feel to the music and the song feels ready-made for Top 40 radio.

The new five-song release from The James Emmett Band continues with the track “Crawl”. Just like the previous track, “Crawl” feels ready-made for commercial radio airplay. The gentle beat laid down by Mathew Emmett Geraci and John Kovacic on Bass creates an easy pace to the music and the vocals from Justin James Geraci seem very reminiscent of John Mayer on this track. The lyrics on the track come across as rather familiar; so much so that the listener may find themselves singing along before the song is halfway through. The familiar feel to the track makes “Crawl” one of the standout tracks on the Bet Against Me release.

Up next on the release is the title track. The song “Bet Against Me” is perhaps the most “current” track of the EP as the band shows off their various musical influences that are found in today’s music scene. The underlying sound of the music of the track contains a pop/rock feel. That pop/rock influence comes complete with a slight hip-hop style as singer Justin James Geraci performs a strong rap within the track as he comments about the current state of the world and where he stands within that world. This track contains a very infectious feel to the music and would instantly become a favorite among the youth who follow the band.

Much of the music contained within the Bet Against Me release from The James Emmett Band contains a relatively modern feel to the music. However, with the track of “Fall Apart,” the band’s style changes to incorporate a rather throwback style. While the track “Fall Apart” would easily fit alongside Indie Rock from today, the track contains a musical style that brings to mind the music of the eighties; moreover, the feel of the music is reminiscent of the Rock and Roll that had been played on college radio that had not been classified as New Wave.

The Bet Against Me release comes to a close with the track “Havin’ Fun”. Like the majority of the band’s release, this track incorporates a very modern feel in the music. You can feel a little U2 influence in the music. But because the song contains a large keyboard feel, there is also a strong eighties vibe as the track brings to mind several of the New Wave bands like Ultravox or Visage who were largely keyboard-based. The track contains a strong slow, steady beat that goes along with the strong keyboard presence. When added together, both elements create a track that will, once again, fit in well with modern Top 40 radio.

As sons of Rock and Roller Sonny Geraci, Justin James Geraci and Mathew Emmett Geraci have created a band that proves that they have, indeed, inherited the music gene from their father. Bet Against Me from their band The James Emmett Band is a solid effort that comes complete with five songs that show off their various musical influences. The release features plenty of tracks that are just screaming to be played on the radio. If a five-song release is this good, then a full-length is surely welcomed.   

To discover the music from The James Emmett Band, check out their song “Fall Apart“.

To check out the Bet Against Me release from The James Emmett Band, click on the album cover below: