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July For Kings - 2002 Swim

Joe Hedges - vocals, guitars
Travis Delaney - guitars
Sam Dobrozsi - drums
Jason Morgan - bass
T Miller - guitar, cello

On the surface, July For Kings do not appear to be doing anything new. The CD booklet reveals the obligatory plethora of tough-looking 'rock band' photographs and the music itself at first listen appears to be a variation on material by bands such as Nickelback, Creed and Fuel. Yet all is not as it appears. Whereas other modern rock acts are big on image and small on substance, July For Kings' aggressive, energetic and powerful songs positively buckle under the weight of the hooks and melodies that dominate them and together with a real lyrical thoughtfulness and sophistication, the result is one of the most exciting rock records of recent months. Of course, bands like The White Stripes are quickly edging out bands like July For Kings in the popularity stakes, but valued on its own terms 'Swim' is a wonderful example of how new rock bands are capable of recording superb albums.

The Songs
Previously known as Swim, July For Kings gained a significant following in the upper Midwest and released two albums that drew the attention of MCA. The band is musically tight and appears to have a great chemistry, but the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly lead singer/songwriter Joe Hedges. His intelligent lyrics, ear for melody and powerful voice are a central part of the band's strengths, and right from the dramatic intro of the intense opening track 'Believe', it's clear July For Kings is not another identikit, derivative modern rock band. The track explodes into life in sensational style and Hedges' fascination with religious imagery and references is clear immediately. He screams, 'I want to believe in something, but God closed her eyes.' with such heartfelt passion and conviction, it's difficult not to be captivated. 'Believe' could easily have been the band's first single, but 'Normal Life', an examination of everything mundane we take for granted, is the single choice instead. Initially it's unclear if Hedges' lyrics are biting with sarcasm as he sings of wanting a house, a car and paying the phone bill, but it soon becomes apparent that in an uncertain world these simple things should not be undervalued. The mid-paced 'Girlfriend' and the excellent 'Champagne' showcase the band's solid rhythm section and an undeniable ability to vary their approach, while 'Bed of Ashes' and 'Start Again' both boast some blistering riffs and soaring vocals, but still retain the incredible sense of melody which runs through virtually every song. The beautiful, acoustic-based 'Meteor Flower' slows things down impressively, before 'And Gomorra', the most powerful and affecting song of the album confirms July For Kings' longevity and extraordinary talent.

In Summary
It may not be an entirely original sound in today's rock scene, but when the songs on 'Swim' are this good, even the hardest reviewer can be forgiving. July For Kings are definitely one to watch.


Track Listing:
01 --
02 Believe
03 Normal Life
04 Girlfriend
05 Bed of Ashes
06 Champagne
07 New Black Car
08 Start Again
09 Without Wings
10 Meteor Flower
11 And Gomorra
12 Anything But Beautiful
13 Washed Away

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