Hazel’s ‘BAM!’ captures creativity, energy of band
Hazel’s ‘BAM!’ captures creativity, energy of band
By Denton Ramsey
Reaching into their vault of musical masterpieces, Sister Hazel has done it again – producing a top-notch album with amazing beats and harmonies their fans have grown to know and love.
As well as appreciate.
With the band’s latest release, ‘BAM! Volume 1,’ Hazel continues to blow me away – both as a lifetime fan of the band and a diehard fan of great music.
These guys honestly rival bands such as the Beatles and Grateful Dead for greatest band of all-time.
And they are completely underrated.
In fact, if I were to be stranded on an island and could only bring one band’s CD’s with me, the choice would be simple.
Hazel all the way.
With the band’s latest ‘BAM’ release, Hazel goes back to their roots with many of these terrific tracks.
The beautiful thing about this band is the fact that it’s more than just music – it’s a lifestyle.
As a lifetime Hazelnut, this comes as no surprise.
Since the band first blossomed from a trio of stars to the five-piece group we know today, they have created and produced incredible music.
Years later, they continue to do the same thing – and their latest release has it all: from Ken Block’s beautiful vocals to Ryan Newell’s sweet riffs, this CD is clearly clever from start to finish.
From song one to song 15, you’ve just got to love these guys.
For now, let’s take a little time to break down the band’s latest album, track by track, tear by tear, hit by hit…
1. What Kind of Living (1999)
The band begins the album with a tune they recorded back in the late 90’s. This catchy tune brings back memories from high school as I recall the sights and sounds of 1999. A clever track, this is a fantastic way to begin an album featuring five superheroes armed and ready for battle. A music battle meant to last a lifetime.
2. Boy Next Door (2001/02)
I really don’t know how this song didn’t make the cut. From start to finish, Hazelnuts and music fans alike will absolutely love this tune. With an oldies sound and a trademark Block voice, this song rocks! And it speaks the truth, too. From the harmonies produced through Block’s and Drew Copeland’s voices, to the riffs from Newell and Jett Beres, to the jamming of the drums by Mark Trojanowski, this track has it all. Not only that, but some of the vocals seem to bring back childhood memories of band named ‘Smashing Pumpkins.’ ‘Boy Next Door’ is bound to be a ‘BAM! Volume 1’ hit.
3. Work in Progress (1999)
Just like ‘What Kind of Living,’ this track was recorded back in the late 90’s, when I was still cruising around in my red Jeep Cherokee jamming the band’s first album (yes, the one prior to the band becoming the official group we know today). Good times… however, I digress. Just like the song says, this review too is a work in progress. As is my life.
4. Sweet Destiny (2001/02)
Wow, I have to admit – this track gets my number one vote. It’s a close vote, and it just barely edges out a couple other tracks on this album, but I believe it’s their best. This song truly takes me back to original Hazel hits. Especially when the end of the track rolls around and you can hear Block alone with an acoustic just singing away in the beautiful voice Hazelnuts have become accustomed too. Just talking about this track, especially its conclusion, gives me Goosebumps. ‘Sweet Destiny’ is sweet for sure, and it’s destined to be a fan favorite.
5. On Your Mind (2005)
The fifth track on ‘BAM’ wasn’t laid down until December 2005. Produced by a well known name in the business, Don McCollister, Hazel recorded this tune at Nickel and Dime Studios in Atlanta. Good tune, good times. And I can’t get these songs out of my mind – they’re simply amazing.
6. Sick to My Soul (1999)
When I first heard received this album in the mail, my little brother, Christian, and I listened to the album from start to finish. Then we did that about three more times. We’re both huge Hazelnuts, so it was more than just fun. It was like a roller coaster ride – we knew the album would be great, we just didn’t know what to expect next. When I first heard this tune, I knew right away – another 90’s track. And another great track as well. ‘Sick to My Soul’ brings out everything beautiful about Sister Hazel, from their blazing beats to their heavenly harmonies, these guys have it all. I just can’t say that enough.
7. Mosquito (2001/02)
Hopefully, I still have your attention. I will try to be brief with the remainder of my track-by-track review. It’s just tough, because I could talk about these guys all day, every day. ‘Mosquito’ was recorded back in 2001-02, and this is a neat track in that it’s not a typical Hazel song. You’ll have to hear the song to see what I mean.
8. Little Black Heart (2005)
This band is absolutely amazing! I swear to you! If ‘Little Black Heart’ doesn’t have you turning up the volume on your CD player, check your pulse. This track talks about the bad sides of fallen relationships, or bad choices we make in getting ourselves into rotten relationships. One way or the other, this track is headed towards being blared in car stereos and home stereos through the U.S. It’s a hit, hands down.
9. Sail Away (2003)
Who’s ready for the Rock Boat? ‘Sail Away’ sails fans away into a musical oblivion as Block and Copeland’s vocals take us on a boat ride we never want to exit. An upbeat tune, this track is perfect for sitting on the beach and jamming out to some Hazel. Grab a mixed drink and sit back – it’s time to be blown away, once again, by another Sister Hazel tune.
10. Wrong the Right Way (2005)
This track was produced by Sister Hazel and mixed by Newell. It was also recorded at Best Western Hotel, Room 258, back in May 2005. Pretty sweet. Interesting tune – and the fact that this track was put down in a hotel room just shows how talented these guys truly are. It’s doesn’t matter where you put these five, they will still create a near-perfect album.
11. Grand Canyon (2001/02)
The band did a great job in picking the songs they wanted to put on their first B-side disc. ‘Grand Canyon’ is no exception. With our five-some dressed in their superhero gear and ready for action, it’s time for a tour of the Grand Canyon…
12. Save Myself (2001/02)
Another personal favorite. ‘Save Myself’ will save the Hazelnuts. And again, great placement, guys. This tune is so Hazel. And it’s so awesome. From Ken to Drew to Ryan to Jett to Mark, this song once again proves it takes five to create Sister Hazel. And boy does it sound pretty. Picture perfect pretty.
13. Can’t Get You Off My Mind (2005)
This was the ‘secret song’ on the band’s last studio album, ‘Absolutely.’ With ‘Can’t Get You Off My Mind,’ you can definitely tell why many see Copeland as an up and coming country star in his own right. Having heard Copeland’s solo country album, I can tell you he has what it takes to make it in country music. But once again, I am off the subject at hand. Back to the Hazel ‘BAM’ review…
14. She’s Gone (2001/02)
Don’t worry – we’re almost to the end of the album. Sister Hazel’s ‘She’s Gone’ reminds me of tunes from back in the late 90’s from groups such as Matchbox 20 and Pearl Jam. However, Hazel is a step ahead. They’re the best!
15. Mona Lisas (2005)
Hazel literally could not have ended the album any better. This track definitely brings back Pearl Jam memories from the early 90s. Although the track was laid down in 2005, it’s got an old-time Hazel feel to it. This was the track that was battling ‘Sweet Destiny’ as a personal number one song on the band’s latest album. ‘Mona Lisas’ is a very-close second the album’s hit track. I love this song… and I love this band!
Putting It All Together
Just eight months after producing and releasing a musical masterpiece with ‘Absolutely,’ Sister Hazel followed up with another near-perfect album.
The band’s first B-side release, ‘BAM! Volume 1,’ hit stores on June 8.
And the music is already making waves with their fans, known simply as “Hazelnuts.”
For the Gainesville, Florida five-some, ‘BAM! Volume 1’ was a perfect solution to a good problem to have when it comes to making music – having too much music.
Due to everyone in the band writing, there tends to be an overflow of music for each and every album battling out for a space on a CD.
Hazel’s solution: the creation of ‘BAM! Volume 1.’
“One day we just said, ‘let’s build a home for [these songs],’” drummer Mark Trojanowski said. “That’s part of the beauty of being an independent artist. When you get fired up about the music, you can just skip the red tape and pull the trigger.”
And pull the trigger, they did.
“One of the hardest parts of making a CD for us has been picking the songs,” lead singer Ken Block said. “We are a five-man democracy, and sifting through 70-something songs each time to narrow it down to one CD worth of music has always been challenging. Since we all write, there are always a ton of songs that we work up.”
For the band, a CD such as ‘BAM! Volume 1’ is a first – but from start to finish, it’s full of typical-Hazel melodies and rhythms that make this band so remarkable.
“This is our first hybrid CD,” bassist Jett Beres said. “There are full-blown studio tracks, live studio demos that captured our first pure swing at new songs, and some rare bonus tracks.”
The excitement the band feels about their new CD is matched by a superb release filled with some of Hazel’s favorite hidden gems.
“I think when we sat down to sketch out this CD, we were done in about 10 minutes,” rhythm guitarist Drew Copeland said. “We’ve all been championing these songs for a while now. Not only was it painless, but when we listened to what we had, we were beyond excited.”
Hazel lead guitarist Ryan Newell concurs.
“In some cases a demo just feels better than the studio version,” Newell said. “Sometimes a studio track doesn’t fit the rest of a record. To us, there is something special about these songs that has kept us excited about them. These are some of our favorite songs, so we’ve been really motivated to put them out for a while now.”
With ‘BAM! Volume 1,’ Sister Hazel has done just that.
And once again, they have created another masterpiece.
For those who want to hear another set of great songs from the greatest band of all-time, the time is now to order a copy of ‘BAM! Volume 1.’
At the rate these superheroes are going, we’ll have yet another new masterpiece on the shelves in a matter of months.
Having been on a Hazel high since first hearing these guys back in the mid-90s, I can’t wait to hear more from the B-side bank.
“That’s a no-brainer [as far as creating ‘BAM! Volume 2’],” Block said. “We make music. It’s what we do. And I’m happy to say there’s a lot more where this came from.”
And I can’t wait to hear the next installment.
Until then, keep on sailing away with Hazel high tunes – and get your copy of ‘BAM! Volume 1’ today.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at email@example.com