LUVPLANET


"State of Mind" (Independent Release; 2005)

Reviewed by Edwin Van Hoof

One of rock’s finest and most underrated guitar players is perhaps former Vicious Rumors shredder Mark McGee, whose playing gave classic melodic metal releases like “Digital Dictator” and the self titled "Vicious Rumors" CD a far better and more melodic sound than any of their later outputs. McGee has been busy since he left behind metal to wander down new paths in life. With his current band Luvplanet, he definitely delivers a fine piece of melodic rock.

Luvplanet’s “State of Mind” is like day and night from Mark's Rumors days. Luvplanet plays mega melodic rock with acoustic guitars, fine harmonies, sugar-coated choirs, and an extraordinary fine tuned voice in the person of Nicole Sutton. However, McGee still has the urge to swing the axe, opening songs with a screaming solo, or a melodic riff but always well-balanced and in measured doses. And, perhaps most importantly, always with sheer passion.

"State of Mind" rocks with melodic, ear-tingling tracks like the pumping title track, the pompous and pulsating “Girl” and the slow moving acoustic rocker “Something’s Waiting” all the way to classic arena rockers like “Life Goes On.” Without doubt the best moments are those when Sutton and McGee team for vocal duties.

Mark is not only a gifted guitarist, but he also is blessed with a warm voice that contrasts well with Nicole’s crystal clear vocal chords. “More Than I Do” is a perfect example of the excellent interaction between the two, as is the highlight “Last Chance,” which is absolutely magnificent with its solo guitar opening. 

The semi ballad “Gem,” sung by Mark, is a nice campfire track with acoustic guitars and overflowing passion, where “You’re the One” bears the mark of slow hand player Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) with a recognizable guitar loop wandering through. It's very soulful, moody and warm. The same goes for the last track on this disc, “Home,” with its friendly guitar harmonies and a ‘sticky’ chorus, boosted again with a great second voice coming in. "Home" is a track that could have been on any of the late 80s Heart releases (without labeling Luvplanet as a copy cat).

Clearly the key to the success of this band is the vocal interaction between Sutton and McGee. That, in combination with the magnificent guitar playing, great harmonies and excellent clear and high pitched soloing over crusty layers of acoustic guitars, is an amazing combination which will attract a lot of fans.

From the twelve songs presented on this 69:12 (!!) clocking disc, most are simply gorgeous, some are exceptionally great and there a couple you need to listen to several times to grow on you. My only real complaint here is the production. Though it does fit the music, I think the band would be doing a lot better with the less subtle touch the likes of Paul Sabu and Beau Hill are best known for. But that’s only a wee note...

It would be far too easy to categorize this release as a "13 in a dozen" melodic rocker, but it simply blends too many styles and has far too much to offer. The music is melodic, semi-acoustic with full shred guitar harmonies all over, and is buoyed by the depth of the crystal clear (country-rooted?) voice of Nicole Sutton and Mark’s warmer and rougher vocals.

Bands that come to mind when listening to Luvplanet are Boston, RTZ, Venice, Heart, Tone Norum, and more obscure acts like Band Central Station. Perhaps a bit on the safe side.

Luvplanet: Scott McKenzie – drums, percussion ; Nicole Sutton – vocals, acoustic guitars ; Mark McGee – electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin & vocals; Tommy Sisco– bass .

For more information, check out http://www.luvplanet.net or www.markmcgee.com.


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 


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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Feb 2017 13:05:52 -0500 .