Review: 49 Stones - Turn It On
Return to Rock.
Turn It On, the debut album from 49 Stones (formerly The Poets Down Here), reveals a band more focused stylistically than previous material recorded under the old moniker.
Recorded over ten days with producer Bill Westfall at Sonic Sounds Recording Studio in Dallas, Texas, the combination of old and new songs benefit from tight production.
The impressive guitar-heavy chops of Brett Cox, punchy drumming by Kyle Scheel, and booming bass of Garrett Cox shape the band’s muscular Nineties rock sound. The high-octane guitar assault is brash and unapologetic. In terms of technique and style, Brett Cox skillfully works his way through guitar chords and phrasing that sounds fresh and incites frenzy.
Rising above the fray, lead vocalist/guitarist Emma effortlessly shifts from hypnotic near-whispers to face-melting outbursts without losing a note. She unleashes expressive power vocals with big league status. I haven’t heard a female rock vocalist with this much swagger and range since Pat Benatar or the Wilson sisters of Heart. Yep, believe it. Emma is sassy and vicious on “Are You Listening” as she belts out lyrics. Her distorted vocals in the opening of “Crowded” create interest and roar over wiry guitar. She’s clearly in control and confident in her delivery.
Most of the time, the sound of 49 Stones charges forward like runaway horses. The distinctive percussion by Scheel and complex bass lines by Garrett Cox push the rhythm section into overdrive. Brett Cox’s energetic guitar riffage on tracks like “Alive Tonight” and the frenetic “Cruel and Unusual” assert dominance with a primal directive.
“Devil All Long” is a wicked psychedelic guitar number hopped up on Red Bull. Emma’s sexy vocal here is melodic and aloof. The band can slow things down without missing a step. “Crazy Without You” is a mid-tempo rocker with immediate rock radio appeal. The final track “You are There” is a slow-burning number with enough chops to hold its own against the other eleven songs on this satisfying record.
Turn It On surprised me. This straightforward rock has some badass grooves, epic vocals, and attitude backed by talent. No gimmicks. 49 Stones reminded me why I loved “Barracuda” by Heart and “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar as a hormonal teen; why I favored songs in the 90s like “Vaseline” by Stone Temple Pilots and “Sister Havana” by Urge Overkill over anything on Top 40 pop radio. Distinctive guitar-driven rock can still, well, rock without sounding over-indulgent. Turn It On is a refreshing update to the rock genre. 49 Stones put together a solid debut album that marks a promising start.
49 Stones – Turn It On CD Release Party
7-10 PM, December 18 - Aftershock Bar and Grill in Merriam, KS.