Johnny Cummings

Richard IV Studios, 2003

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Brief even by EP standards, Johnny Cummings' debut disc Copesetic is a challenge to review, clocking in as it does at four songs and just over 15 minutes. The good news is, I didn't mind at all hearing these songs several times in a row.

The diversity of this quartet of tracks makes it difficult to slap a simple label on them, but you could call it alt-rock for over-thinkers. Heavier than Fountains of Wayne, deeper than Nickelback, more esoteric than Gin Blossoms, Johnny Cummings is an intriguing mix of ego and id, introspective intelligence and chord-crunching rock.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

He starts off heavy with the bludgeoning, almost metallic opening to "Suffocate Me," slamming home a complex sequence of riffs that reminded me of Dream Theater's John Petrucci. The lyrics are a step above what you might expect from the throbbing music, though -- the venting of a damaged soul trapped in a self-destructive relationship. And even at his angriest, Cummings' vocals are crisp and clear.

Next up (sorry, with four tracks it's tough not go one-by-one) is the more mid-tempo and melodic "Too Far," whose once-again introspective lyric unfolds over solid riffing from Cummings. The cut has a nice full sound that belies the fact that Cummings plays most of the instruments (guitar, bass, piano), with assistance only from drummer Joe Myers and occasional rhythm guitarist Matt Quistorf.

"Partial" starts out as a quiet piano number, but quickly builds into more of a power ballad, one which I'd compare to matchbox twenty, but in a good way -- as in, strong vocal arrangement, solid dynamics and appealing production.

Finishing up is my favorite track here, "Ready To Go." I am admittedly somewhat of a Gin Blossoms fanatic, and right here you can find all the reasons why: fat, jangly, propulsive guitar lines over a steady rock beat, superb harmonies and a sing-along chorus. Cummings even sounds like Robin Wilson in places on this very appealing track.

Four tracks barely qualifies as an appetizer, but I'm ready right now to sign on for the main course. Johnny Cummings serves up tasty rock and roll that will have you asking for more.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Richard IV Studios, and is used for informational purposes only.