Well it took three weeks, of doing these You Asked For It reviews of local records, but I finally got an album for that I could actually enjoy. Truly, picturing the other bands I've reviewed for this project playing live makes me cringe, but not Joey Arroyo Band. Their latest album Is...Aggressive shows these guys can actually write decent songs, play their instruments well and sing. Oh praise the heavens, a local band lead by someone with some actual vocal talent!
Yes, a singer who can sing... Can you imagine it?
Arroyo's overstated, decadent vocals meld with his band's sound quite well. He straddles the line -- however dangerously -- between sounding like a Chad Kroeger or Scott Stapp, but it is his band's sound that helps ease the listener's fear. Why do people hate on Nickelback and Creed? I think it's because their music is so bland on a basic level. Toss a growling, bombastic, dickhead of a lead singer on top of that and everything goes to shit. Arroyo's vocal style, though, befits his band's toned down, good old fashioned alternative rock sound.
But goddamn, the one thing that smacks me in the face about this album is that Arroyo can hold a tune!
Granted, rock is a genre that can be stagnant and often uninspired, but JaB manage to create -- in Aggressive's 31 minutes (perfect album length) -- a varied sound that employs pianos, a flamenco-sounding guitar and some damn fine drumming. That flamenco guitar, paired with some Darkness-esque guitar riffs creates an inspired pairing on "Devil's Stare." Throw in a crescendo-building, frenetic chorus -- lead by Arroyo's vocals -- and out comes one fascinating, entertaining song.
On Is...Aggressive I can hear the inspiration and that goes a whole hell of a long way, especially when dealing with smaller, local bands trying to make their mark. Joey Arroyo Band has an absolute talent in their lead singer, but the band doesn't just rest on that. No, they mix different rock styles, craft some great riffs and keys and pull it off with the swagger of a bigger, more renown band. Joey Arroyo has the chops, indeed, but so do the rest of his bandmates.
If you're a musician from the Phoenix area and would like to submit a CD for review, please send it in an envelope marked "YAFI" to:
Martin Cizmar You Asked For It c/o Phoenix New Times 1201 E. Jefferson Street Phoenix, AZ 85032