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The Big Takeover #84
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John Condron & the Benefit – Eleventh Hour Grace (Em-Press)

29 December 2011

This collection of expertly-crafted Midwestern rock-pop features heartfelt songs that were built for the bars, with just enough decoration to keep your ears engaged through all twelve songs. Condron notches at least one should-be classic with “Blurred,” which pulls an equal measure of Dream Police-era Cheap Trick glam and classic Dave Edmunds melodic roots-rock. Condron’s vocal delivery hints at a possible fondness for celebrated tunesmith Neil Finn of Crowded House during the midtempo swing of “Moments of Grace.” The rhythm section shows why they rate co-headline billing during “Sacred Places,” as Jeff Bella’s burbling bass line runs the length of the neck and Barret Harvey’s intricate hi-hat work keeps the beat tense and tight. The economical riff-rock punch of “Tea Party Stomp” may not be purpose built for the campaign trail, but the song carries a message in tune with anyone who is looking toward the Hill and ready to simply “throw the bastards out.” “Open” is a gentler, acoustic-based tune with a tender heart. “Can’t you see how she saves me,” sings Condron with apparent wonder and appreciation. The acerbic wit of Elvis Costello pumps through the propulsive post-punk of “Shut Up,” with a little bit of Andy Summers-styled sci-fi guitar thrown in for good measure.


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