CD REVIEW: Brandon McHose - "Token"
By: Jim Becker
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Weakness: Lyrical content, vocals
This is the second album from this Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter. There are 11 songs coming in at around 50 minutes total. He has a strong internet presence, including YouTube and various social media sites.
OnToken, Brandon McHose teams with a band made up of seasoned veterans who have worked with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Seal and John Mellencamp. The resulting production quality and sound are excellent. The band is tight and firing on all cylinders, but leave plenty of room for McHose to show off his excellent guitar skills. The feel is loose and free and the instruments and the vocals are mixed just right. McHose is a confident guitar player who is adept at writing hook-laden melodies.
The big downside of this album is the lyrics. With the awkward inspirational song “Life Eclipse” and the saccharine story song “Heart for Duty,” it’s clear that McHose is much better at manipulating guitar strings than heartstrings. McHose has a penchant for using easy, simplistic lyrics and can sometimes resort to odd imagery in order to force a rhyme. Though the guitar work on “When She Smiles” is impressive, lines like “She’ll ask so many questions, I can never concentrate/I’m finishing all the vegetables on my dinner plate” will have you wanting to skip to the next track. Unfortunately, this sort of thing runs throughout the album and can be a distraction on otherwise strong tracks. McHose has a good voice, but his vocals seem stuck in the same range for most of the first few songs, giving them an underlying feeling of sameness. It’s not until “Whisper” that he breaks out of that rut and really starts taking some vocal risks. In “Nowhere Fast,” the band builds up a musical head of steam that seems to push McHose to explore his vocal range, with good results. It would have been nice to hear more of this throughout the album.
Token showcases Brandon McHose’s solid songwriting ability and a mastery of the guitar that will make you sit up and take notice. Since this is his second release, it’s clear McHose is still growing as a songwriter. His talent at crafting hooks and his musical performance abilities are unquestionable, but his lyrics and occasional vocal timidity are holding him back. Token contains more than enough promising aspects to make me interested enough to see what McHose does in the future.
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