RockCounsellor’s new LP ‘MusicTherapy’ seeks to conjour up the legacies of your Europes, Van Halens, and Meatloafs of the past, but on this occasion it’s slightly more filler than killer despite showing some signs of promise across the record. If this had been an EP that had dropped into my lap with just the select few making up the track listing, I would be singing the praises of this release, but I’m left more frustrated and dare I say uninspired by the real slog that is its mid-section on reflection.
I will give RockCounsellor the credit he deserves for moments in this release, and that credit begins with 2nd track Eggshells. A real ‘funk-rocker’ of a song, punchy slap bass grooves and tight drums really take the lead in directing the song throughout its course. I’m a big fan of the distant, yet crunchy interruptions of guitar licks in the verses, really filling out the texture of the song in the moments it needs beefing up. It swells and falls in a genuinely interesting bridge that crescendos up to a point where you really wish it would explode beyond returning to the same chorus we’ve already had. If it could have reached 5th gear for that final 30 seconds it probably would’ve sat more comfortably atop the pedestal of my favourite track on the album, but I’d still rate it as the number one release on this LP.
The next 5 tracks are, unfortunately, where that killer really becomes filler. I don’t really have much to say about this middle leg of the album, other than it really was quite inconsequential. No one track stands out from the rest, other than perhaps ‘Ferrari-Driving Investor’, but for all the wrong reasons. Although I can appreciate the sentiment of the track, its lyrical execution is fairly bland and clichéd, almost tinged by childish insults rather than genuinely interrogative and interesting wordplay.
Forgetting this mid-section, I’m then met by an altogether strong close to the record in the forms of tracks ‘Middle Aged Man’, ‘Pinot Grgio’, and ‘If You Could Be Wrong’; all for different reasons. The combination of self-deprecation and self-love on Middle Aged Man, with its ‘I don’t care I’m doing this for me’ candid attitude, is refreshing to hear across an album of classic rock that relies heavily on its predecessors. I hear Journey, I hear ELO, I hear Van Halen, but most importantly I really hear RockCounsellor in this track. It’s the right side of reminiscence; “the music he grew up on that keeps him feeling young”, reimagined and executed well. ‘Pinot Grigio’, with its driving synthesised bassline feels the newest and most exciting concept on the album, and stands apart from the rest of the tracklist; it almost has a disco feel (if you can imagine disco played by a hard rock band!).
Final track ‘If You Could Be Wrong’ is a bit of an epic at a touch over 8 minutes in length, and the challenge with a song of that length is to keep the listener engaged throughout. I’d say that, broadly, RockCounsellor is successful on this occasion. A slow to build, cinematic and string-lead first half does its job in setting up a rock-opera ending that I feel this album needed. It gives closure well, and is also something that I wouldn’t necessarily have expected on hearing the first 9 tracks.
This is a strange one for me, all in all. There are real signs of promise, and moments I really enjoyed on MusicTherapy, and yet there were also track-upon-track that I really, really didn’t. As I’ve already mentioned, if this release had dropped as a 4 or 5 song EP, I feel like I could’ve had more of a connection to the release as a whole, versus individual songs. I’d still encourage you to give this record a chance if classic rock is your thing. Will this become your favourite album in that genre? No, I don’t think it will. Will it make you want to hear more from RockCounsellor going forward. I reckon so.