All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review: Sherwood - Qu

Sherwood - Qu
2009, MySpace Records

San Luis Obispo, California quintet Sherwood is a band with an exciting sound and a tendency to get thrown out of shopping malls. The story stems from the days when the band would try to hawk their music in shopping centers, being thrown out of 40 malls, per the band's count. Suffice it to say their profile has risen over the past few years. Sherwood was the first band signed by Tom Anderson to his fledgling MySpace Records. Sherwood's last album, A Different Light (2007) reached #12 on the Billboard Heatseekers cart and made #38 on the Independent Chart. On October 13, 2009, MySpace records releases Sherwood's third album, Qu. With precise songwriting, great hooks and a sound that goes down like sugar water, this might just be the breakout album Sherwood has been waiting for.

Qu finds Sherwood opening with pure vocal harmony on Shelter, a sonically pleasing and brief prologue before Sherwood launches into the highly pop-oriented Acoustic Rock number Hit The Bottom. Big harmonies, a melody worth its weight in gold and hooks you won't believe, Sherwood blasts out of the gate with a guaranteed winner. If this doesn't conquer radio, expect it at least to be a marketer's dream, showing up on television and perhaps even in movies. Not Gonna Love keeps the momentum going with an infectious chorus and a positive message about standing up for yourself and what you believe in. Vocalist Nate Henry has a wonderfully smooth sound that fits perfectly into these Acoustic Pop arrangements. Maybe This Time maintains the same big pop sound in a quasi-acoustic setting.

Make It Through opens with a brief vocal fugue full of harmonies reminiscent of the glory days of the Wilson Brothers in the Beach Boys. This may well be the biggest potential hit on the disc, possessing a rhythm, melody and sound that make it pure pop candy for the ears. Worn shows a more melancholy side to Sherwood; a sparse, guitar-fed song with serious folk in its ancestry. The duet between Nate Henry and Molly Jenson is striking, enough so that people will be scrambling to find out just who Molly Jenson is. What Are You Waiting For has a Weezer-esque energy and angst, all done up in the grace yet energetic pop aesthetic that seems to be one of Sherwood's stronger traits as a band. Free takes on a 1980's feel; a frenetic rocker with a big, simple chorus you'll hum the first time you hear it. Free is a bit more driven than much of the material on Qu, but serves to an ever greater range than initially imagined for Sherwood. Qu closes with No Better, a song about divorce from the very adult perspective of the child involved. No Better puts into context the emotions and contradictions encountered with divorce by the children affected by it as well as anything I've read or heard.

You can't always be sure which is which, but in the commercial realm there are bands who succeed by trying to sound commercial and those who succeed by being irresolutely themselves and having a strong ear for pop music that they strike gold. Sherwood is the latter. This is a band with a serious ear for melody, a real talent for writing lyrics that mean something, and a knack for landing that big hook when they need it. There's a lot more musical meat and potatoes here than in your typical pop outfit; Sherwood has the chops to play with the big boys. I suspect Qu will afford them that opportunity. Very well done.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Sherwood at, where you can pre-order both digital and CD copies of Qu in advance of its release on October 13, 2009.

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