"Dreamcatcher" (Self-produced)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Sometimes you listen to a CD by an unsigned band and you wonder why the hell they haven't been signed. Such is the case with Raggedy Ann, a four-piece rock'n'roll band that explodes with an abundance of talent in every possible musical direction.

Let's start with the overall musical picture: You'll be tempted to call Raggedy Ann's sound "80's hard rock" but to date them so would be unfair. The band certainly use 80's hard rock as their musical inspiration, but they build upon it a freshness that gives them a vital sound of today. That isn't to say they step over into "alternative" territory, like so many other bands today, but rather they have a dynamic that makes the music sound current and not dated. Imagine what bands like Britny Fox, Dokken and Whitesnake would sound like if they were still recording with the passion and the originality they enjoyed when they first hit the scene and you've got a general idea of what Raggedy Ann sounds like.

For the most part, "Dreamcatcher" is filled with solid rockers. The title track, "Superhero," sets the stage for the rest of the album with solid guitars, strong, epic-tinged vocals and a rhythm that states simply and defiantly, "This is rock'n'roll." Things don't slow down until track #5, "One More Time," the token ballad, but one that doesn't make you reach for the "next" button on your CD player. Even if it did, "Holy Water," the next track, will have you turning the volume up again soon enough. "Show Me the Way" starts out like it could be a second ballad, but turns instead into a sophisticated, slower rocker with a soaring chorus that catches the imagination instantly. "Walk on Fire" has a main riff that drives itself into your mind while the CD's last track, "The Sign," must have been written and performed as a tribute to Queensryche.

"Dreamcatcher" is an amazingly strong album, expertly produced and performed, from an impressively strong band. If there are no American labels smart enough to sign these guys, there are a half-dozen European labels (I'm thinking Frontiers/Now & Then among others) who should snatch them up ASAP.

Raggedy Ann: Brian Carson - vocals; Aaron Reames - guitar, vocals; Steve Bolla - bass, vocals; Mike Lunden - drums, vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.raggedyrock.com

"Arizona" (Self-produced)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

On their website and throughout this CD, Raggedy Ann make no bones about the fact that they are "melodic rock." "Arizona" is more of an 80s rock album than the later "Dreamcatcher," but that doesn't mean it's a wimpy album. In fact, the title track, is a sly little rocker that gets things off on the right foot.

If "Dreamcatcher" was more like Britny Fox, Dokken et al, then "Arizona" is more like Journey. The guitars aren't as chunky, the songs more radio friendly, the overall effect a little ... well, softer. But only a little. We're not talking Toto here; imagine a slightly gentler Jackyl and you'll get a damn good idea. By the way, much of the softer sound here is due to production that - while pretty impressive for a self-produced CD, sometimes takes away too much of the music's inherent edge.

Fans of 80s rock and modern melodic rock will find a lot to like on the 10 tracks herein. Those who like their music a little more on the heavy side should start with "Dreamcatcher." Regardless, both CDs are recorded evidence of a very talented, fun-loving band that we expect we'll hear much more from.

RAGGEDY ANN - Brian Carson - vocals; Aaron Reames - guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion, harp, mandolin; Steve Bella - bass, vocals; Josh Goryl - drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.raggedyrock.com

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.