Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Garth Michael McDermott-Highways and Ghosts

June 1, 2006

Band Name: Garth Michael McDermott

Album: Highways and Ghosts

Best Aspect: Strong instrumental talent

Genre: Pop/Alternative

Website: www.garthmichaelmcdermott.com

Label: n/a

Band E-mail: info@garthmichaelmcdermott.com

Sadly enough, before I even gave Highways and Ghosts a listen, I had a feeling I was in for a real drag of an album. To be quite honest, I think it spawned from this fact: Garth Brooks sucks. And so does Dillon McDermott. Combine the two and…well, you get the idea.

As far as musicianship goes, Garth Michael McDermott is as sound as any. His voice is very strong and his instrumentalism (guitar/piano) follows suit. Yet the problem lies not within his skills as a singer or musician, but in his songwriting originality, or lack thereof. Note for note, the listener knows what is coming. Had I wanted to (and I didn’t), I could have sung along with each chord progression my first listen through. For the most part that’s not my cup of tea, but for many that’s exactly what they’re looking for. Local hits radio stations are a good example- every song on Highways and Ghosts feels like it should be playing muffled in the background of my family physician’s office, mixed in the daily shuffle between Daniel Powter and Jason Mraz.

“Kicking Up the Dirt,” the first song after the minute-long intro track, is fueled by a heavy, slightly western-style acoustic rhythm and is accompanied by choppy, Dire Straits-esque leads. It’s catchy, and perfect for listening to with your friends when they refuse to listen to any more of your “weird crap”. Consequently, this track clutched my vote for best song on the album.

“Records To Your Rivals,” track number three, features a bland piano backing and resembles everything I despise about current pop or alternative music; pre-packaged songs for teenage girls and older guys looking to hook up with teenage girls. Perfect for myspace-ers.

“Up From Nothing,” numero cinco, packs the twang and sorrow of today’s country. With lyrics like “color my world,” I think I’ll look elsewhere for thought provocation.

The other songs on Highways and Ghosts are all very similar in style. McDermott is not by any means a poor musician. Unfortunately, however, the lack of luster in his material on Highways and Ghosts will not set him aside from what is being produced by the pop artists who have already made it big.

– Carson Vaughan

beaverboy33@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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