Hurtsmile – Hurtsmile [IMPORT] (2011, Frontiers Records)
1. “Just War Theory” … 2:41
2. “Stillborn” … 3:51
3. “Love Thy Neighbor” … 3:42
4. “Kaffur (Infidel)” … 4:29
5. “Painter Paint” … 2:30
6. “Tolerance Song [Edit]” … 3:23
7. “Set Me Free” … 4:19
8. “Jesus Would You Meet Me” … 3:15
9. “Slave” … 5:19
10. “Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads” … 6:25
11. “Just War Reprise” … 4:19
12. “The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” … 5:35
Gary Cherone – Vocals
Mark Cherone – Guitar
Joe Pessia – Bass, Mandolin
Dana Spellman – Drums, Percussion
Producer: Gary Cherone & Joe Pessia
One of the year’s best albums is one that I didn’t even know existed until just as it was released and even then I didn’t give much thought to buying it. Hurtsmile is a new side-project from Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone (his brother Mark is in the band as well) and I found out about this new venture thanks to a Frontier Records advertisement in a recent issue of British magazine Classic Rock. I thought to myself that it could be an interesting listen because afterall I was a fan of Extreme’s Saudades de Rock but the last time Cherone fronted a new band (Tribe of Judash), I remembered not caring much for the one song I heard on the radio. I ended up checking out some YouTube clips from this album and really liked what I had heard.
Extreme did a good job of updating their sound with Saudades de Rock and many of these songs I could envision being on a new Extreme album, like the beautiful ballad “Painter Paint” or the reggae of “Just War Reprise” and “Love Thy Neighbor”. But this isn’t “Extreme featuring Gary Cherone”. The lyrics are a lot more serious and political and there’s no funk to be found. “Just War Theory”, “Kaffur (Infidel)”, “Tolerance Song (Edit)” and “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” tackle heavy issues. “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” is a Dylan-esque ballad that details the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Meanwhile, the infectious upbeat bluegrass sounds of “Jesus Would You Meet Me” sees a man (Gary Cherone?) asking Jesus if he’s going to meet him on his dying bed.
What I really love about this album is that you can’t really peg this album down to any certain style. “Painter Paint”, “Just War Reprise” and “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” are three completely different sounding songs: a sweet ballad (and not the “More Than Words” kind), reggae and bluegrass. Then on the flip side “Just War Theory”, “Set Me Free” and “Stillborn” feature enough modern hard rock crunch to be radio hits if anyone would actually pay attention.
Much credit due to the Cherone Brothers. Gary is really one of rock’s most underrated vocalists. He’s taken a beating over the years for Van Halen III but the guy is a great performer live and in the studio. He sings his butt off on this album, no small feat considering the genre hopping being done. He’s just as comfortable singing softly as he is screaming about war and tolerance or singing reggae. As for his brother Mark, this guy is a great guitar player. I didn’t even know Gary had a brother! Where has he been hiding him? Nuno is amazing but Mark more than holds his on this album with some great riffs and leads.
I can’t see this album budging from my Top 10 list for 2011. This band isn’t an Extreme clone but I think anyone that is an Extreme fan will love this album.
Highlights: “Just War Theory”, “Stillborn”, “Painter Paint”, “Jesus Would You Meet Me”, “Slave”, “Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads”