Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men — Downtime
(Jem Records No #, 2020, CD / DL / LP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-08-09
It’s reassuring that Nick Piunti, purveyor of intelligent muscular power pop is still going strong in 2020 amid the global pandemic and all. His band is now The Complicated Men, pretty much a seachange since the last one that I reviewed (2015’s Beyond the Static) but occasional songwriting partner and singer Ryan Allen (of the bands Extra Arms and Thunderbirds Are Now!) is still on board, and the rocking spirit is still 100% intact, with all the cool riffs and hooks and great vocals and lyrics that made those earlier albums irresistible. Where to start? The opening track, “Upper Hand,” will get your feet moving, with a strong refrain and powerful guitar solo by the man himself. Throughout the set one might be reminded of any of a number of great bands from the late 70s and early 80s, classic Cheap Trick, Big Star, late 70s Beserkeley era Greg Kihn, The Real Kids, and many others that pioneered this trail. “Every High” begins with a simple jangly guitar figure moving into an unforgettable refrain with some outstanding lyrics to boot. Most of the songs here stick to a sensible two-to-three or so minute length, making a concise statement that doesn’t wear out its welcome. “All This Time” takes a brilliant and crunchy guitar riff over a catchy drum rhythm, the unbforgettable refrain “All I wanna do is wake up without you on my mind,” and at just over four minutes it’s the longest song in the set. The title of Downtime comes up in the lyric of “Never Belonged to Me,” along with some brilliant punchy guitar riffs and great la-la-la chorus vocals that are among the most interesting that the album has to offer, while “Contract” that follows is about as catchy as a rock song can get, full of the hooks and power riffs that are Piunti’s signature. For those who want to rock, Downtime is for you.
Related artist(s): Nick Piunti
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