A mix of hard rock, R&B, and mainstream pop, Ohio natives SomeKindaWonderful occupy the same hook-filled all-genre world that bands like Maroon 5 and OneRepublic cultivated throughout the 2000s. It's a place where soulful vocals meet edgy, blue-collar guitar riffs and contemporary dance-pop production techniques. The bands that work in this milieu have as much in common with AC/DC as with Justin Timberlake, and delivering a big hit while keeping some classic rock street cred is all part of a day's work. That big hit could come in the form of SomeKindaWonderful's debut single "Reverse," which immediately struck a chord with fans on L.A.'s revered KROQ radio station and was, incidentally, the song the band was formed around. After leaving L.A. following a failed record deal, lead singer Jordy Towers headed back to the Cleveland suburb of Olmstead Falls to visit his parents. While at a local bar, he met guitarist Matt Gibson and drummer Ben Schigal while they were casually riffing on some ideas. Towers ended up sitting in with the pair and the dark breakup track "Reverse" was born. The serendipitous pairing of an existing band without a singer and a singer looking for a band reinvigorated both parties and soon they were recording their self-titled debut as a fleshed-out five-piece. Most of the album follows the pattern set by "Reverse" with familiar, retro-minded, soulful rock blending with modern R&B sounds, and Towers delivers songs like the Black Crowes-esque riff rocker "Cornbread" and the modern pop/rock "Hard for Days" with a sensitive bad-boy flair that isn't quite distinctive, but is certainly capable. There are gospel-inspired tracks ("Shine on Me"), ballads ("In Chains"), various heavily compressed modern pop numbers, and even a rapped section or two. Yes, it plays shamelessly to many crowds, but fans of straight-up hard rock will still feel the Ohio in this record, which pits Midwestern grit against the shiny patina of L.A. show biz.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger