The Everymen

Givin' Up on Free Jazz

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Jazz is one of the few genres that doesn't figure into the Everymen's sophomore album, Givin' Up on Free Jazz, though they sure make a spirited run through rock & roll of the '50s and '60s, R&B, jump blues, soul, hard rock, punk, and a few spaces in between that might require testing in order to accurately determine their origin. What comes through most clearly on Givin' Up on Free Jazz is that the Everymen are a show band, an act eager to please their audience with sweat, swagger, and passion, and on this album's best moments, like the Springsteen-esque "A Girl Named Lou, Pt. 2," the 50's-styled "Fingers Crossed," and the soul-shot "Ain't Good Enough for You," you can all but feel the musicians dancing, pumping their fists, and tossing their axes around as they work the crowd. In an age of studied cool and polished choreography, the Everymen's commitment to old-fashioned entertainment fused with a 21st energy and crunch is admirable and winning, and it doesn't hurt one bit that bandleader Mike V. (aka Michael Venutolo-Mantovani) is also a solid songwriter. Here, Mike V. fuses old-school sounds with personal, direct-from-the-heart lyrics that play like musings from a Jersey guy who has ideas of his own but honors the traditions and obsessions of his musical forefathers (many of whom get namechecked in "NJHC," from Frank Sinatra to Glenn Danzig). Mike's band can deliver the goods, too, especially co-lead vocalist Catherine Herrick, drummers Jake Fiedler and Stephen Chopek, and horn men Will Hoffman and Scott Zillitto, all of whom can punch and swing with authority, and the production hits the right balance between polish and rowdy enthusiasm. Maybe the Everymen don't get free jazz, but they know rock & roll very well indeed, and on Givin' Up on Free Jazz, they're determined to make folks feel good, and they succeed admirably.

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