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Falling into Place

music reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Falling into Place

Artist: Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: August 1999

Review by LarryG
2½ stars out of 4

If you miss the unglamorous late 70's pub rock of people like Joe Jackson and Graham Parker, you could do a lot worse than Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers' Falling Into Place. Falling Into Place is filled with straight ahead, unpretentious rock. It's not particularly new or important, just a record of consistently fun music. While not quite as inventive or varied, the Candy Butchers merit comparison to Fountains of Wayne, who similarly clearly love "new wave" music from the late 70's and early 80's and seemingly make music for fun rather than in a calculated quest for stardom.

The songs don't have quite the same drive Graham Parker's great band, the Rumour, gave Parker's best Squeezing Out Sparks era rock but the resemblance, especially in the gritty, angry vocals, is quite amazing. Except for superfluous horns, I Don't Know Anything, with its tight guitar lines, rough vocals and staccato energy, could be a song from Parker's Another Grey Area. All I Have, perhaps the best song on Falling Into Place, is a great fast rocker that would segue well with a classic Parker rocker like Nobody Hurts You. Its tale of being vulnerable and totally dependent on his girl is goofily moving. All I Have shifts through various sonic changes but the guitars and drums keep the momentum going. Once it's done its job after two minutes, it ends. Falling Into Place is remarkably consistent, filled with likable, if fairly unambitious poppy rock songs. The horns work on Fall Back Down, adding to a Southside Johnny type exuberant mood. Break Your Heart is an infectious rocker with Viola carefully deploying his compact guitar hooks. Viola is improbably upbeat singing about a girlfriend who keeps her distance.The title song, with Viola humorously playing a pessimist surprised as things go well, has a nice light piano. The variety of the songs is bounded by Viola's vocal and stylistic limitations but is still pretty broad. Killing Floor is a fun, loose song. Let It Ride, at various times, resembles Buddy Holly and Cheap Trick. Can't We Do Anything Right has a nice swirl of strings and crisp guitar riffs. Mike Levesque's beat propels the song. Viola doesn't make a fool of himself on the slow, string filled Give Me Some Time. Ballads aren't his strength but his rough vocals have a sweet openness. Stop When It Hurts basically has only a simple piano to accompany Viola's vocals. The sad, simple music matches Viola's empathic song about a woman who's made bad choices. The last ballad Once I Was is nicely sincere though Viola's vocals are shaky on their own until horns and keyboards(played by The Band's Garth Hudson) come in and create an interesting circus atmosphere.

In general, Falling Into Place is a good time. Viola is a good, unshowy guitar player. His songs are slight but well constructed, hook filled pop.



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