Marty Casey & Lovehammers

Studio Album by released in 2006

Marty Casey & Lovehammers review

Marty Casey & Lovehammers is polished, hooky neo-grunge

Lovehammers were hard-working regulars on Chicago's mainstream rock scene, barely known outside the city limits till reality television came along and gave them the big break they had long been ready to receive. Recently Lovehammers’s frontman Marty Casey was runner-up on Rock Star: INXS, reality series centered around the search for the new lead singer for the rock band INXS. That led Casey and Lovehammers to a major-label contract with Epic, which released an eponymous album in the first weeks of 2006. This is not their first album – in 2004, they released Murder on My Mind, a self-released debut. Marty Casey & Lovehammers is on a much larger scale, of course, and appropriately, it's been given a production that's big, glossy, and shiny, something that's ready for radio. This is polished, hooky neo-grunge the likes of which hasn't been heard on mainstream radio since about 1996 or 1997. Perhaps, their sound would have gone unnoticed ten years ago, evaporated in the pool of talented rivals. But the release of their major-label debut comes at an ideal time, when rock truly needs a makeover. Known as a band best heard live, they’ve still managed to create a brilliantly crafted and electrifying raw album sure to push them beyond the realm of celebrity. And they’ve proven to us all that the losers really do get lucky sometimes.

The lyrics on the album laud personal persistence and a positive outlook

Minus the leading track, Casualty, the entirety of Marty Casey & Lovehammers stems from their pre-Rock Star repertoire, compiling what Casey refers to as the band’s greatest hits record. Casualty displays the band’s maturity and its uncanny ability to streamline rock without bowing to pop culture. Similarly, the album’s first single, Trees, an amped-up version of the song made famous by Casey’s performance on Rock Star, is a hook guaranteed to catch first-time rock listeners while still impressing loyal fans. Casey, a blond, Britney-inspired bombshell, may inhale pop, but he exhales a sound that can be described as nothing less than pure rock. Just listen to Clinic, the scratchy, grungy track reminiscent of the sound currently ignored by mainstream airwaves and heard only on the sound speakers in ill-lit record stores. Clinic may scream fire in a very raspy voice, but the mellow tracks like Rain on the Brain and Clouds showcase the band’s diverse dynamic by resonating a sense of inspiration without carrying that annoying emo whine. The standout track is Straight As an Arrow, the sole number produced by Chicago indie-rock legend and one-time Nirvana engineer Steve Albini, a man famed for his fondness for unvarnished studio performances. The lyrics on the album laud personal persistence and a positive outlook, which may strike some listeners' fancy more than artificial bad boy posturing commonplace in hard rock.

The band offers ripe instrumentals, rippling melodies and rallying vocals

There is very little room for bands to perfect and learn their craft as in the past and it’s nice to see a TV show give a boost to a performer (and now his band) that deserves the attention. Marty Casey & Lovehammers is a good modern rock record, and even if it took a reality show to get the band to a national stage, this proves that they're ready to seize the opportunity now that it's finally landed in their laps. Lovehammers, comprised of Casey, guitarist Billy Sawilchik, bassist Dino Kourelis and drummer Bobby Kourelis, cohere so seamlessly and irreplaceably well together. Time will tell if J.D. Fortune was the right choice for INXS, but it’s already clear that Casey belongs nowhere else but with Lovehammers. The band offers ripe instrumentals, rippling melodies and rallying vocals, alluding to the era when authentic rock groups like Bush and Stone Temple Pilots ruled the radio. And while it would have been easy to bring a who’s who of talented back-up musicians into the studio, Lovehammers resisted that urge. Their latest album is an experimental collage of different sounds, distinct melodies and diverse production techniques.