Reviewed by Justine Manzano
G-POP, in its need to find artists that fly under the radar, tends to patrol spots where unknown artist tend to roam, track them down and ask them for a sample. Sometimes when we do this, we are richly rewarded with an incredible work of art—after all, not every great work of art can be seen by all. Other times, we find ourselves able to shout out a list of reasons why an artist has remained unknown. Those are the times we dread. After all, nobody wants to have to work their way through a flimsy attempt at art.
I stumbled upon Diesel America while on a networking site, and they had no demo CD for us to take a look at, but their website was chock full of live recordings. The band consists of Kevin Galligan who writes the music and plays the lead guitar, Rob Sonnenberg who plays drums and sings back-up vocals, Thomas Farnham on the bass, Eric Hirsch on rhythm guitar, and David Harris, who sings the lead vocals and writes the lyrics. The name of the band is a tribute to the Diesel America Trucking Company. The band makes their way around the New York area, performing in popular lounges and clubs such as CBGB's and The Pussycat Lounge. They had a good reputation and fifteen songs on their site. There was nothing to stop me from listening, so I began clicking on the songs, happily skipping through the "Over 18 Only” disclaimer and on to what I expected to be the good stuff. What I got, on the other hand, was something I hadn’t expected.
Every single song Diesel America plays sounds remarkably similar. So, when the listener first hits the website to play the first song, they are instantly entranced by the hard rocking feel of the instruments and the spectacular beats and rhythms. And by song number 7, they feel like they’ve listened to the same song for the last 15 minutes. Sadly, that very similar sound is a good one, and with some risks taken, the group could do much better in that department.
Harris on lead vocals has shot himself in the foot. His voice is great for the genre his music is reaching for, akin to a Metallica style. Unfortunately, his lyrics are uninteresting at best, bordering on laughable at their very worst. They are awkwardly written, with repetitive rhyme patterns and lines of lyrics often feel as though the writer was trying to fit too many words in the beats. Awkwardly paced lines like “We’re gonna outrun the broken hearts of the broken hearted that you left behind” from the song Drive Away are abound in this musical selection.
There is also odd genre shifts within the selection of music that feels like an odd attempt to be genreless, but simply makes the series of songs feel weird. Within two songs, the listener is taken from hard lyrics like “You can’t save your soul from me”, in Destiny to the strangely country sounding “Send me dead flowers at my wedding/and I won’t forget to put roses on your grave” in the song Dead Flowers.
Naturally, because this band isn’t completely terrible, there are a couple of gems to be found in the rough. Space Monkey, a song who’s lyrics contain quotes from Fight Club and lyrics as obvious as “I want to be your space monkey”, managed to find it’s way into repeated outburst from me, which, frankly, surprised me, and quite possibly scared all of my friends away. You try shouting out that you want to be someone’s Space Monkey—see if you get away with it. Another gem would be Bad Place which mostly had a spectacular bridge that could’ve been a song unto it’s own.
All in all, I would not find myself at a Diesel America concert if I wanted to listen to something and enjoy the lyrics either for fun or artistic merit. I would, however, if I wanted to hear some awesome guitar riffs and rocking drumbeats along with a great voice, without caring about the band's message. With a tune-up on lyrics and some risks taken with their beats, Diesel America could become a great band to rock out to. Until then, I suggest them only in small doses.