Saturday, March 5, 2011

Album Review: The Great Valley - Ruthless

Brotherly love can be unstoppable. When two brothers have passionate motivation to work together, they can complete anything. Louis and Nick Matos, known together as The Great Valley, have been working together to make music for most of their lives, and Ruthless is the best product they have released thus far. Their honest pop-punk sound is reminiscent of an early Valencia or You, Me, and Everyone We Know, comparisons that only signify the great things the brothers can potentially do in the future.

Opening track "Yesterday" shows how tight the boys' relationship is, as Louis sings "We were young so it was easy / to imagine where all of this was headed / more courageous than two boys could ever be / filled with hope now that we can finally tell our story", while Nick plays riffs that sound right from The Dangerous Summer's Reach For The Sun. "Dreamer" features the brothers showing off their superb harmonizing skills, as they work in unison to create a smooth vocal sound. "Dirty Work" is contagiously catchy, with a chorus that anyone from a New Found Glory fan to a teenage girl that's never even heard of pop-punk wouldn't be able to resist singing along to. Louis shows that he is multi-talented, creating rhythms from behind the kit that keep the listener on their feet.

The problem with the album is that the band doesn't quite take any risks. "Me, Myself, And Time" is a great signifier of this fact, as the song simply blends in with the rest of the album, with no real stand out qualities. The melody from the chorus seems to have been used a million times before. "The Sweeter Side Of Life" is a great song, even though the verses contain a very similar guitar pattern to Cartel's "Matter Of Time". The chorus is powerful, adding in a couple "whoas" in another crowd-pleaser. "If You Stayed" and "Ruthless" are two more average songs, both of which could have been sung by Shane Henderson on a pre Dancing With A Ghost record. Closing the record with "Like We Do", the band puts together their best song to date. Louis' vocals burst through with emotion, while Nick backs him with just as much passion both instrumentally and vocally. The brothers close the record on just their voices, working together with an a capella rendition of the chorus, a perfect ending to a strong record.

The Brothers Matos definitely have talent. Both are very strong vocally, and each play a variety of instruments. They are great at crafting hooks, and expressing their experiences in a mature way. It just seems that the band should be capable of a lot more variation. However, for the band's first real extended release, there is a lot of promise shown. A little more creativity, and the band will explode. But for now, a strong pop-punk debut will do.

Projected Score: 8.3/10
Revised Score (5/19/11): 7.6/10

1. Yesterday 3:37
2. Dreamer 3:13
3. Dirty Work 2:54
4. Me, Myself, & Time 2:52
5. Sweeter Side of Life 3:28
6. If You Stayed 2:46
7. Ruthless 3:07
8. Like We Do 4:08

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