There as a time when an alternative pop/rock release like Wonderful Nothing would not have been described as commercial, radio-friendly, and mainstream. But that was before the early '90s, before the rise of grunge icons Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and before post-grunge bands like Matchbox Twenty, Third Eye Blind, Creed, and Eagle-Eye Cherry (just to give a few examples) became the sound of rock radio. By 2002 standards, Familiar 48's Wonderful Nothing isn't groundbreaking; anyone who listened to rock radio extensively in the late '90s or early 2000s has heard a lot of similar material by similar bands. But while this Don Gehman-produced CD won't receive any awards for innovation, it still wins the listener over with sincerity, warmth, and solid songwriting. The Philadelphia band formerly known as Bonehead has a definite asset in lead vocalist/songwriter Jayy Mannon, whose vocal mannerisms bring to mind Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas (among others). Mannon is an expressive and emotive belter who fares well on tuneful, melodic, pop-minded offerings like "Place of You," "Learn to Love Again," and "Miss You" (not to be confused with the Rolling Stones' 1978 hit). His songs are, by early-2000s standards, quite radio-friendly -- if Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Deep Purple, and Peter Frampton were the sound of rock radio in the '70s, bands like Familiar 48 are the sound of alternative rock radio in a post-grunge, post-Nirvana era. And that isn't necessarily good or bad -- commercial radio (rock, urban, country, or otherwise) takes a lot of well-deserved criticism for playing it safe, but that doesn't mean that everything it plays is without merit. No one will accuse Wonderful Nothing of trying to reinvent the alternative pop/rock and post-grunge wheel; regardless, there is a lot to enjoy about this solid, if derivative, outing.
Wonderful Nothing Review
by Alex Henderson