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Diamonds In the Rough

Diamonds In The Rough

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Album Review

Side projects are rarely as good as you hope; usually they are as bad as you fear. It's rare that the bass player or tour keyboardist whose songs aren't good enough to make his regular band's repertoire has any gems hidden up his sleeve. Usually you're left with an overly earnest imitation of the day job or a foray into uncharted territory that turns out to be embarrassing. And if you're a fan of the band that the side project emanates from, you'll be interested and might even waste your money on the product. Luckily for fans of Swedish group the Soundtrack of Our Lives, guitarist Ian Person's side project (the aptly titled Diamonds in the Rough) is darn good in an unassuming and fun way. For the most part, Person doesn't stray far from TSOOL's guitar-heavy sound, but his light touch, lack of pretension, and melodic tunes make the record a nice departure. He treads lots of territory on the album, from loose Stonesy rockers (the title track), glittering blue-eyed soul ("Heavy Weather"), and lush soundtrack-ready instrumentals ("Fool's Parade") to bittersweet acoustic balladry ("Make You Mine"), Kinksy pop ("Trickster"), and dusty country-rock ("Wendigo"). Even flamenco ("The Delivery")! Throughout the record, the best thing is Person's charmingly artless but effective vocals; he sounds achingly real (and somewhat like Epic Soundtracks at times). Plus everything sounds great with layers of guitars piled just right and plenty of touches like handclaps, horn sections, and backing vocals to keep things interesting. Diamonds in the Rough are the kind of rare side project that makes you wish Person would quit the day job and stick with this. You don't even have to be a TSOOL fanatic to dig it. All you need to be is a fan of well-produced, hooky, and exciting guitar rock.

Diamonds In the Rough, Diamonds In The Rough
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