Night Ranger – Somewhere In California (2011, Frontiers Records)
1. “Growin’ Up In California”
2. “Lay It On Me”
3. “Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)”
4. “Follow Your Heart”
5. “Time Of Our Lives”
6. “No Time To Lose Ya”
7. “Live For Today”
8. “It’s Not Over”
9. “End Of The Day”
10. “Rock N’ Roll Tonite”
11. “Say It With Love”
Jack Blades – Lead Vocals, Bass, Backing Vocals
Brad Gillis – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Joel Hoekstra – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Kelly Keagy – Drums, Percussion, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Eric Levy – Keyboards, Piano, Backing Vocals
Producer: Night Ranger
Since in the last year or two I’ve heard a startling number of melodic rock albums that I’ve actually ended up enjoying, I decided to give the new Night Ranger a chance despite never really being a fan of the band other than a few songs (and I HATE “Sister Christian”). Deep at the core of Night Ranger I’ve always felt there was a really good HARD rock band there. When the band isn’t writing slick commercial melodic rock numbers, they can really go balls to the wall and they do this a number of times throughout Somewhere In California.
Pointing out the album’s highlights:
- “Growin’ Up in California” is a high-energy opener that name checks a few California locales and instantly brings to mind a song like “(You Can Still) Rock In America” as it somehow finds a perfect balance between the melodic rock & actual rock ‘n’ roll, keyboards & guitars.
- “Lay It On Me” is a great heavy number that precisely shows that the band can get down and dirty when they want to. Guitars!
- “Time Of Our Lives” follows in the great tradition of Night Ranger writing excellent ballads (“Sister Christian” is the exception to this excellence!) and is well-sung by Kelly Keagy.
- “No Time To Lose Ya” is extremely catchy and features a great chorus, one of the album’s best and most inspired tracks.
- “End Of The Day” is another excellent guitar-driven song, a bit dark sounding other than the chorus and yet somehow reminds me of Rick Springfield.
- “Rock N’ Roll Tonite” features a great chorus and is yet another guitar-centric number, classic Night Ranger hard rock. Tailor-made for a live setting and would’ve been a great way to close this album.
- “Say It With Love” is the album’s actual closer though and is absolutely infectious melodic rocker and ends the album on a high note.
Though Hole In The Sun was a step towards a more modern sound that proved to be controversial/disappointing for some longtime Night Ranger fans, Somewhere In California has the band delivering what you would expect a Night Ranger album to sound like. In other words, this is “classic” Night Ranger. Having only casual knowledge of the band, if you would have told me this album was one of their releases from the 1980s for the most part I would have believed you.
It sounds like Night Ranger: hooks, melodies, harmonies, great vocals from Jack Blades, great backing vocals, Gillis continues to prove himself as an unsung guitar demi-god (Joel Hoekstra is no slouch either!) and the keyboards are expertly woven into the tracks and don’t become overbearing. Somewhere In California is a really enjoyable album and should be a big hit in the melodic rock world and, most importantly, with Night Ranger fans. It was certainly a big hit with me since I consider 7 of the 11 tracks to be “highlights”!
Highlights: “Growin’ Up in California”, “Lay It On Me”, “Time Of Our Lives”, “No Time To Lose Ya”, “End Of The Day”, “Rock N’ Roll Tonite”, “Say It With Love”