2014, Krian Music Group. Strange Familiar: https://www.facebook.com/thestrangefamiliar
This band is doing pretty well. They have their own Wikipedia article and everything. Maybe it has something to do with getting airplay on The Vampire Diaries and other TV shows, with a lot of buzz afterwards. Not bad for a couple from Cuyahoga Falls (pronounced “Cahoga” for you foreigners) who started out in the band Jaded Era (Leyden and Andrea, and geez, they’ve been together since grade school!). Along the line, they picked up Freeman and Sainato, also from the area. After Jaded Era, off to L.A. in 2006, and boom! Well, maybe not quite that fast, but you get the drift.
Readers of this blog (are there any?) (Editor’s Note: Yes) who liked the band that our editor just reviewed (Editor’s Note: Wire & Wood, by Rambler 454) probably aren’t very fond of the kind of the pop/rock that The Strange Familiar are known for, although maybe I’m stereotyping (Editor’s Note: Yes, yes you are). What we’ve got here is a nice batch of piano-led rockish pop songs. Not candyass stuff, just good solid material. I like it. Some of it reminds me of Carole King. The tunes are catchy, the harmonies are cool and dreamy (I’m thinking overdubs, but maybe not), and the mix of voices and instruments are something you can get lost in, in a good way. Yeah, it’s TV-ready stuff, but that’s not a bad thing, since it’s not venue that matters, it’s quality. Some people work this style in a crappy way (see American Idol, any season), but others know their stuff, and these people really do it right. From the lyrical perspective, it’s pretty much all about love and life and perseverance, but if I’m looking for political statements or deep philosophy I’ll probably be listening somewhere else, like punk or art rock.
Some of these songs already sound strangely familiar (Editor’s Note: I left this bad pun in; forgive me). I think they’ve already been on TV or got heavy radio airplay, but I can’t remember. The first song, “Painkiller,” is one of them. Good solid tune, and the closest to a rocker they have here, other than “And I Wait,” also excellent. The title track was inspired by a sunset in Denmark, so they get around. Lots of ballads, which are fine by me, and the more I listen to the album the more I get into it, and the songs seep into my brain. Okay, I’ve waited to the end of the review to tell you that I love Kira Leyden’s voice, and that’s all I’m going to say.
Personnel: Kira Leyden (vocals, piano), Jeff Andrea (guitars), Frank Freeman (bass), Nicholas Sainato (drums, piano, percussion).
Tracks: Painkiller, Gone, Rain, Surrender, Except to You, Lies, And I Wait, The One, We All Fall Down, The Day the Light Went Out.