Evans Blue

Evans Blue

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Losing a guitarist, bassist or drummer can be disruptive for a band, but losing a lead singer can be really disruptive. Even if they don't make a habit of reading album credits, listeners who wouldn't necessarily notice a new guitarist, bassist or drummer will take notice when a new lead singer arrives. There is a reason, after all, why a lead singer is called a frontman or frontwoman: his or her voice is right up front. But some bands manage to bounce back from the loss of a lead singer, and this self-titled album demonstrates that there is life after Kevin Matisyn for Evans Blue. Matisyn, the Canadian band's original lead singer, was part of Evans Blue's original 2003 lineup and stayed until 2008 (when he was kicked out). Matisyn's replacement, American singer Dan Chandler, arrived in early 2009, and this CD is Chandler's first with the band. So how well do they fare without Matisyn? Actually, they have gotten better. The new lineup doesn't sound radically different from the Matisyn-era lineups; they still operate on the hard rock side of alternative rock and favor a melodic post-grunge sound. And Evans Blue haven't become any less derivative; they never were the most distinctive band in the world. What has changed is the quality of the writing; on this disc (which is their third album), the hooks are more memorable. Play just about any track on this 41-minute CD -- be it "Bulletproof," "Sick of It," or the single "Erase My Scars" -- and there is no doubt that Evans Blue really bring the hooks this time. Sure, longtime alternative rock and post-grunge fans have heard it all before, but there's no doubt that Evans Blue have sharpened their writing skills and become more infectious with their new Chandler-fronted lineup. They still have all the post-Nevermind angst and angry introspection of the Matisyn days, but they've become hookier and catchier about it. Some of Matisyn's hardcore admirers will continue to lament his absence, but even so, this CD is a step forward for Evans Blue.

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