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Foxy Shazam’s Latest Release Channels Queen & Muse, Shows Gospel Side

After I named “Oh Lord” as last weeks song of the week, I decided to sit down and give their entire major debut a listening. As with any good song from an album, “Oh Lord” gave me a great taste of what I would hear and I was not disappointed. Right from the first song, “Bombs Away,” Foxy Shazam conveys on unheard of level of energy through a recorded (non-live) album.

As I said before, this band channels Queen in a very modern way. If you look at music in 2010, the only other band that has mastered Queen’s sound is Muse. If Muse is the dark side of the force, Foxy Shazam is the Rebel Alliance, showing the fun, light hearted side of Queen’s magical sound. The theme that helped Muse and Foxy Shazam create this sound is a perfect blending of the lead vocalists with the rest of the production. Any time either band hits the chorus, the vocals are present, but blended as a backdrop for the bands overall sound.

What made this record stand out in my eyes was the production quality and the incredible properties each song embodies. The melodic themes in these songs go far beyond a band that has only been around since 2004. One of the highlights in the album’s opening is track three, “Count Me Out.” Featuring screeching vocals during the chorus, the song’s incredible melodies between a noodling guitar, horns and strings during the verse bridge the gap between Eric Sean Nally’s Freddy Mercury-like vocal solo’s.

After a run of fast paced songs to open the self-titled album, “Bye Bye Symphony” is a half-time ballad with a dark ominous theme most comparable to the aforementioned Muse. The fifth track on the album was featured during the Super Bowl as the broadcast broke and came back from commercial breaks. This song is not as strong in the overall context of the album. Something that did not stand out on my initial pass were the singles. They are buried, lost in the album and the powers involved did not pick the best songs to be singles on this release.

What end up keeping this album fresh are the richly produced melodies. Similar to other bands in 2010, there are hundreds of sounds packed into each track, creating a sound that can only be described as huge. Although I have never seen the band live, I question how this huge, overproduced sound would translate to a small club-sized stage (the type they are currently performing on). A band like this is sometimes held back by their apparent size. This sound should be filling arena’s, not dimly lit clubs.

By the time you reach “Oh Lord” (track seven), you have already been buttered up to the bands unique sound. This song is the best on the album and will hopefully get some mainstream radio airplay eventually. One of the more interesting songs on the album is “Connect,” a piano centered ballad that makes me think of old school ’90s hip hop. In the chorus, it breaks into a gospel singing: “You can connect me, You are the one, you hold me in my place.”

As the album comes to a close with “Killing It” and “Evil Thoughts Me,” you are reminded of what rock and roll was like in the ’70s with the first song featuring David Bowie-like lyrical runs. The final song of the album finally brings this non-stop joy ride to a close on a sentimental note. Opening with a reverberated piano solo, Nally’s vocals come in with a “Bohemian Rhapsody” esque tone. Acoustic guitar layers on but the song never builds beyond a low lying chorus.

A sweet end to a great album, Foxy Shazam impressed SXSW, impressed me with a single song and has now blown me away with a unique, over the top major debut that could shoot them into the pop spotlight in 2010.

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