To Be Somebody

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One thing you can say about Jesse Malin is that he knows how to deliver propulsive, big rock to the masses. The former frontman of trash rock outfit D Generation is in fine form in his new surroundings, Bellvue. To Be Somebody opens with a hard rock scorcher, "My Life," featuring bludgeoned tom-toms and razor-wire guitar licks building inexorably until the dam breaks and a metal-ized, giant-sized riff crashes on the listener. Although one hears a little Jane's Addiction in the proceedings, Bellvue is too self-assured to follow one course for long. "Faded Flowers," for instance, combines modern flourishes such as drum machines, rapped vocals, and deliberately lo-fi moments with a chorus that would make Nikki Sixx green with envy. "Love Streams" and the cover of the Stones' "Heartbreaker" remind you that this band loves its classic rock as much as its metal and punk. It doesn't hurt matters that Malin has use of some formidable talents: lead guitarist Esko Poldvere is imaginative and daring, and the rhythm section of Johnny Pisano and Joe Rizzo is about as muscular as you get. Added into the mix are some choice guest appearances, such as seasoned keyboard vet Joe McGinty and current "it" boy and Malin pal Ryan Adams, who provides backing vocals on the surprisingly gentle ballad "Basement Home." If you love the rock, dig Bellvue.

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