After About 827 Listens…



After listening to Kelly Overdrive’s full length album 827 about that many times, I still have a hard time finding the words I am looking for to accurately describe the CD. This isn’t because I love or hate the album, the words simply escape me. You see, I wrote a review for this CD once before. It was to be a review for Nerd Lives (a website specializing in nerd culture that I used to write for), but due to the demise of the site, it never made it to the Interweb… which is likely for the best because it wasn’t a very good review.

I’ll start with a qualifier. I am not very into 1970’s rock music or progressive rock, both of which greatly lend themselves to Kelly Overdrive’s sound. Their rating out of 10 would like hop up a few notches if I were into the style a bit more, but that’s why I felt it necessary to explain this to the reader. That said, I do think that excellent musicianship, classical training, and strong attention to the arrangements of the music are highly evident on this release. Eric Battestelli’s songwriting style is nothing if not technically sound and intricate. That is why I would point towards classical music at the foundation of this brand of rock rather than blues (the base of most of the more accessible rock in our world). Fans of jazz and classical influenced rock will likely find a lot to enjoy in Kelly Overdrive’s sound, including a few great instrumental tracks (“Dos Manos”, “Sangria”).

What is also very distinct about the sound on this album, is that it has a very 1970’s influence as well as clean, non-distorted guitars. It presents itself as hard rock for the easy listening crowd… yet, it still has the feel to it that would rock a local bar. In fact, the extremely noticeable Philadelphia references in the lyrics, the clever name of the band (Kelly Drive is a well-known street in the city), and the raw, underproduced sound all point towards Kelly Overdrive being a great Friday night band to see at any number of local Philly bars.

Kelly Overdrive’s music not only highlights their obvious understanding of music, love for 70’s cheese rock, and Philadelphia pride, but also a social conscience. While several songs take on typical rock and roll themes, such as relationships (“Ride with You”, “Kisses for Clelia”), others paint a vivid picture of class and neighborhood culture (“Brewerytown”). This social awareness seems to be as important to the overall package as any other element of Kelly Overdrive. An understanding and a deep concern for the city and its people is clearly evident in Kelly Overdrive’s music.

Overall, the best way to sum up 827 is to say that it harkens back to a day in rock and roll where distortion wasn’t needed and musicianship mattered… Kelly Overdrive’s sound is unique and their spirit is something different altogether. Head over to their website or and check them out for yourself.


~ by thepaintedman on June 2, 2009.

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