Shades Apart

Universal Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Power pop is not dead; it's alive, well and has taken the form of the Hoboken, New Jersey-based trio Shades Apart.

After slugging it out for years on independent labels and building up a respectable discography, the band - vocalist/guitarist Marc V., bassist/vocalist Kevin Lynch and drummer Ed Brown - have finally hit the big time with their major label debut Eyewitness, and they make their mark felt quickly and repeatedly. If there was one band I had to pick as the one to watch in 1999, these would be the guys I'd choose in a heartbeat.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Despite their punk rock leanings, Shades Apart is, at its core, a pop band who just happen to know how to put some barre-chorded muscle behind their music. Early into the album, one realizes this as tracks like "Sputnik," "Stranger By The Day" and "100 Days" all unfold to show themselves as the gems they are.

Normally, I'd be able to pick one song out of the bunch as the highlight, but in the case of Shades Apart, it's impossible. Do I point out the reggae-like riffs melting into a frenzied chorus in "100 Days"? Do I call attention to the tango-like beats of "Stranger By The Day", culminating in the classical guitar outro? Or do I mention the all-out pop frenzy and spectacular guitar work on "Sputnik"? It's impossible to choose, and I can't - no, change that, I won't. They're all too damn good.

Just when you think that there are no more surprises on Eyewitness, Shades Apart hits you upside the head with a twist from out of nowhere. There's the opening guitar riff on the first single "Valentine" that suggests someone watching old movies and trying to reclaim a past that is not theirs to take anymore. I swear, the first time I heard this song, I was almost in tears on that riff alone. Or maybe it's the closing one-two punch of "Gabrielle" and "Speed Of Light" that reminds the listener just how good this band is as they're saying their goodbyes for the moment - at least until you hit the "play" button on the CD player again.

Is everything on Eyewitness stellar? Honestly, no, but even the weaker moments aren't anything to be ashamed of. Tracks like "Time Machine" and "Second Chances" might not be on the same level as the bulk of the material on Eyewitness, but something tells me that these tracks would have stood out on any other album.

Shades Apart is a band with a very bright future, and Eyewitness is a first-person account of their first step towards superstardom.

Rating: A-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen 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 Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.