Five years is a long time for a well-known band to go between new studio recordings. It is an even longer time frame for independent bands that are trying to make names for themselves, but that is just what the independent rock band Colossal Street Jam did when it released its latest studio recording, No Way To Live. Released Friday, it is only the band’s second album behind the band’s 2016 debut album, Live Free and the band’s third album behind the release of the band’s 2018 EP, Take Hold. Colossal Street Jam’s established audiences will agree the 11-song record was worth the wait, as its featured musical arrangements show. They will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements make for their own interest and will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of No Way To Live. All things considered, this album proves itself a work that will appeal to guitar rock purists and Colossal Street Jam’s established audiences.
No Way To Live, the sophomore album from independent rock band Colossal Street Jam, is a positive new outing for the band that proves it was worth the wait. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. As with both of the band’s existing records, the arrangements featured in this record throw back to another era of rock, a more creative era. The record’s title track, which also opens the album, immediately exhibits influence from the likes of Deep Purple and Heaven & Earth, what with the pairing of the keyboards and guitars. Front man Gene Potts’ vocal delivery offers an enjoyable subtle sort of 80s rock front man vibe. That is meant in the most respectful fashion possible. The whole makes for such an engaging and entertaining composition.
On a completely different note, the fully instrumental composition that is ‘Morning Light’ completely changes things. Yes, the classic rock influence is just as evident here as at any other point in the record’s 47-minute run time, but it stands so starkly apart from the rest of the arrangements. In listening through the nearly three-minute composition, the almost ethereal opening bars, what with the subtle keyboard line, gives the song an almost Pink Floyd-esque sort of sound and approach. That is just this critic’s interpretation. The subtle, controlled use of the cymbal rolls – performed by drummer Dave Halpern – and equally controlled guitar line from Sal Marra add even more to that sense. It would certainly be interesting to know if in fact the band was trying to emulate Pink Floyd here, because the comparison is inescapable, but in a wholly positive fashion.
On yet another completely different note, a track, such as the record’s penultimate entry, ‘Nothing Like It’ takes listeners in yet another direction, this time in a composition something very similar, stylistically, to works from KISS. That is evidenced through the bombastic, guitar-driven approach and sound featured throughout the arrangement. Right from the song’s outset, the KISS comparison with the pairing of the guitars, vocals and drums. The choral approach taken in the choruses add even more to that sense. The overall arrangement is among the best of the record’s arrangements and is certain to fully engage and entertain audiences. When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and with the rest of the album’s musical content, the whole leaves no doubt that the album’s musical content plays a crucial part in the album’s presentation.
As important as the album’s musical arrangements are to its presentation, they are just part of what makes No Way To Live worth hearing. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements make for their own interest. Staying on ‘Nothing Like It,’ it is just one example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. That is because this song’s lyrical content is a full on celebration of rock and roll. Potts and company make no bones about it, either, singing in the song’s chorus, “Turn up the volume/Let’s crank it high/Let’s tear the roof off until the sky/When you feel it coming on/Let me tell you/There’s nothing like rock and roll.” Again, this is just a full-on celebration of rock and roll and the joy that it brings. The rest of the song’s lyrical theme follows in similar fashion, proving this even more. Between that celebratory theme and equally infectious musical arrangement, this song proves even more to be among the best of the album’s best songs.
Changing things up slightly is ‘Look It Here.’ This song is interesting in that it comes across as being one of those songs that centers on the all too familiar topic of relationship troubles. This is inferred as Potts sings, “Look here/What are you trying to tell me/Look here/What it is, I don’t know/It was only yesterday/I was feelin’ so fine/Can’t understand/Why you and I fight.” From here, he continues in the song’s second verse about thinking things were going right, only to get an unpleasant surprise even more so. This is a familiar theme in so many songs across the musical universe. What’s really interesting here is that the theme here takes a new identity thanks to the infectious bluesy groove established in the song’s arrangement. It would have been so easy for the band to go in a more traditionally melancholy direction. Rather than do that all too easy track, the band instead opted to take a different road, and in turn made the moment more of a moment of introspection but not in a negative way. It all makes this theme fully bearable even despite being so familiar. In turn it will resonate all the more with listeners, showing even more the importance of the album’s lyrical content.
‘Before I Sleep Again’ is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. Right from the song’s outset, Potts sings about the morning’s first light waking him up and looking forward to the start of the day “so I can breath some more/Before I sleep again.” How often can a band or musical act of any kind say it has a song that fully celebrates simply living another day and welcoming each day? This is a theme that is sure to resonate with audiences just as much as the others examined here. When all of these themes are considered together and with the rest of the album’s themes, the whole makes just as clear why it collectively is just as important to this record as the album’s musical content. Together with the musical content, that collective gives audiences all the more reason to hear this record.
As much as the overall content featured in No Way To Live does to make the album engaging and entertaining, it is just part of what makes the record worth hearing. The cord’s production rounds out its most important elements. That is because of its role in the album’s general effect. From song to song, each composition’s instrumentation is expertly balanced to ensure no one member of the band overpowers his band mates. That includes Potts. Even with so much going on in so many of the songs, what with the energy and instrumentation, it would have been easy for the production to allow the songs to get muddied, but thankfully that did not happen. The result is a positive general effect that is certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained just as much as the album’s content. All things considered, the production and content featured in No Way To Live makes the album a work that is certain to appeal to Colossal Street Jam’s established audiences and to guitar rock purists alike.
No Way To Live, the latest album from Colossal Street Jam, is a strong new offering from the independent rock band. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements featured here follow a stylistic model established in the band’s 2016 debut album, Live Free while also establishing their own identities. That is done by once again leaning on the band’s classic rock influences. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are just as important to note. That is because of their familiarity and accessibility. In many cases, when those themes pair with the songs’ arrangements, the lyrical themes create a whole new identity that is certain to engage and entertain audiences all the more. The production that went into this record puts the finishing touch to its presentation. It ensures a positive general effect for the album, finishing the record’s production. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, No Way To Live proves itself an early candidate for a spot among this year’s top new independent albums.
No Way To Live is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Colossal Street Jam’s latest news at: