In today's world, most bands attempt to search for, and lay claim to, a sound that is original and singularly their own -- something unique that makes them stand out from the zillions of other bands. Correctly or not, they figure it's the most likely way to achieve renown. But as The Great Escape proves with their recently released self-titled album, it may not be the only way to achieve success. The Great Escape has chosen to pursue their musical dream by infusing their sound with elements from other artists they like: Janis Joplin, The Black Keys, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Jimi Hendrix to name a few. There's even a hint of Elvis.
Just like their music, the band itself is eclectic. They live, perform, and record in Los Angeles, but their vocalist, Amie Miriello, hails from Connecticut, while drummer Kristian Nord and guitarist Malte Hagemeiste are both transplants from Germany. Despite their European contingency, their music reflects the influence of the sunny climes and beaches of California.
Amie Miriello's vocal chops provide the foundation for the group's dynamism. Weighty and formidable, her voice brims with vibrancy, while simultaneously exhibiting an element of irascibility that allows her to project without resorting to screaming. It's the happy marriage of Adele's powerful, dulcet tones with the rasping sovereignty of Janis Joplin.
The first track on The Great Escape, "All I Think About," is an old-fashioned rocker that first finds Miriello channeling Joplin. The lyrics are simple -- almost too simple -- but Miriello's vocal chords pick up the slack. The next song, "Rebel," resounds with a large brass section. The addition doesn't really scream "rebellion," but thanks to excellent production values, it works. "Secret Song" vibrates with what is best described as rock-a-billy, with Miriello managing to inject a dollop of Dolly Parton, which is quite entertaining. "I Want It All" sounds like Elvis covering a pop tune by Nicki Minaj. And near the end of the album is a delicious, fun, and peppy song entitled "Let's Go," which shimmers with a definite Go Go's sensibility.
The only misstep on the album is "Put It On Ice." It's an attempt at funk-a-delic that doesn't work. It comes off sounding like Joe Walsh's "Funk #49" with the hiccups, if you played it backwards. But besides this one flaw, the album effervesces with raw energy, Miriello's wonderful voice and the heavy-duty attributes of Nord's drums.
The Great Escape, by design or by happenstance, is perfect for Top 40 radio. It's commercial and mainstream, while distinctive enough to avoid being classified as familiar or, worse, ordinary.