Bluffton based American Made have released their self-titled debut collection of songs, ten tracks of modern rock sure to appeal to fans of Blind Melon, Creed, or Candle Box. The majority of the material was written by guitarist Jason Gibson and vocalist Jesse Marley with other band members or outside writers contributing on various tracks.
Mixing modern, funk, and alternative, the songs run quite the gamut of styles with many seemingly tailor-made for radio play. "Let Me Go", one of two songs co-written with Christian Engle, is a classic power ballad with clean guitars and a sound that grows in intensity with each verse. "Dazed on the Shore" features a wonderfully punchy bass in the front of the mix, backed by a memorable melody that will plague you for days. Speaking of bass, "Kings of Desperation" is the sole track written by bassist Scott Ayers. Fast paced, gritty, and heavy, this song pounds away mercilessly with the thrashings of drummer Brian "Fly" Farnwalt. "Reflections" is, well, a reflective ballad with clean electric guitar and drawn out vocals opening the song before the bass and drums kick in, rounding out the song amid lyrics of "Your skin reflects the moon." If you like the bluesy rock of Northern Kind, be sure to check out "Funk Mama" or "Crazy", an album highlight with some great drumming, an inventive musical bridge, and all around great musicianship. Driving guitar, bass and drums propel "In The Dawn" through some great songwriting destined to bring you back for another listen.
As an extra "bonus", two of the songs are represented a second time in a remixed format. "Dazed on the Shore" features distorted guitars and a more driving beat in place of the prominent bass while "In The Dawn" appears to be a simple demo with mostly guitar, voice, and drum machine. Both are nice alternatives but relatively lifeless compared to the full band album versions.
For being recorded on a Tascam unit, the sound is quite good. The voice distorts on a few songs, mostly due to the power of Marley's pipes, and the guitars sound nice but not overly different from what has been heard before. Overall, American Made has produced a robust first effort that should appeal to fans of radio-friendly modern rock. Hear these songs for yourself and order the CD at www.mp3.com/a-merican_made or contact the band at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, April 2002.