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March 11, 2009
Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings
The second full-length album from Athens' power popsters, Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings, is a refreshing and upbeat blend of feel good power-pop and seriously '70s classic rock. Satisfactionista is what happens when you put elements of The dB's and E.L.O. into a blender: you get a smoothie full of delicious guitar-driven melodies and delectable vocal harmonies. The band's latest release is chock full of stadium-sized guitar meltdowns and super-catchy hooks that go on for days. "Rage On" is just one such song; from the opening guitar hook to the fading overlapped vocals, this song is easy to press the repeat button on. "Scared of Myself," however, is completely different and sounds like a lost Black Lab song, starting out minimally and then building to a ferocious climax before settling back down. "Something Unseen" is perhaps the best track on the album, which also features legendary pianist Mike Garson, (David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins), who plays on the final eight-minute opus. Honestly, every song on this album is stellar, and Satisfactionista would do well to accompany a long road trip or a contemplative night in. Satisfactionista's other bonus is the benefit of having Grammy-nominated co-producer David Barbe (R.E.M., Drive-By Truckers) at the helm. Barbe's production remains slick and clean, and it does a nice job of keeping all the instrumentation prominent throughout. Perhaps it's the departure from the band's synthy, almost punk-ish prior effort, or maybe the addition of guitarist/vocalist Joe Orr and drummer Joshua Harrison that adds more fuel to the line-up, but whatever it is, satisfaction is guaranteed.
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