Sunday, January 29, 2017

Album Review: Charetta - Fate Strikes Twice

One of the things I've noticed over the last year or two is the ever increasing number of bands that have been coming forward with honest to goodness female rock singers. There was a long time where it seemed the only way a band would consider a woman was if she was a classically trained soprano, but I'm happy to see that has changed. Perhaps I'm just getting old, or maybe I'm ahead of the curve in realizing that the morose men flooding the genre are flaccid and boring, but there's something about a strong woman leading a rock band that gives them a leg up.

Filed under the category of "things I missed in 2016", Charetta is just the latest band in that realm that I've had the chance to share with you.

Charetta's sound is one that is heavy on groove, with low-tuned guitars and riffs that are written to get the crowd at a show moving. The first track here, "We Will Survive", shows what Charetta can do incredibly well. The riffs and thick and chunky, with enough grit to make it clear this is rock and roll, while Angelina's vocals throw out a chorus that has a hint of pop to it. It's a fun, catchy number that appeals to both sides of the equation, which is exactly what great modern rock should be doing.

Of all the modern rock I've listened to in the last couple of years, I can say that easily 80% of it comes from bands who have completely forgotten that music is supposed to be enjoyable, and songs need to be memorable. Charetta doesn't have that problem. In addition to having a good sound, they also know the importance of writing songs with real hooks. That should be a given, but modern rock has blunted songwriting so much that it's shocking to hear a band doing it right.

Even where you think there could be an issue, reading the title "I'm Not Your Bitch", Charetta overcomes the stereotype by writing a song that has a message more nuanced than the language points to, and they do it with a song that uses a sensual hook to support the point they're making. When Angelina lets out a scream at the end of the bridge, it's not just a feature thrown in to make the music 'edgy', it serves a real purpose in expressing the anger behind the song. That's smart songwriting.

Now, could you say that Charetta isn't doing anything new here? Yes, that's not an unfair assessment, but it looks at things from the wrong perspective. There are two ways of approaching the world; inventing the wheel, or improving the wheel. Charetta doesn't need to be blazing new trails when the one that's already there is so sparsely populated by bands that leave any lasting footprints. Instead, they take the sound we're already familiar with and write better songs than the majority of them. That's just as worthwhile a cause than creating a whole new sound just for the sake of being the first to do so.

"Fate Strikes Twice" reminds me a fair bit of Forever Still's album from early 2016, which wound up on my year-end list. If you remember that album, and how quickly Nuclear Blast moved in to scoop them up after the self-release, that will give you a good indication of what Charetta is serving up. And like that album, this is a collection of previous EPs with a few new tracks included to flesh out the record. Both parts are good, but you can hear the difference and growth in their writing between the two halves. Nevertheless, "Fate Strikes Twice" is a good piece of modern rock, and is one from 2016 that deserves to find some new life in the new year.

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