REVIEWS

Cosmic Rock

Charlotte NC based indie rock group M4 Messenger return with their second full length entitled “God Candy”. After the strong debut “Illusions of Control” was released in 2011 original guitarist Rich Parris passed away and although the band had a rough journey ahead to rebuild and redefine they were determined to continue. Parris was a brilliant musician and writer, joined by long time associates Otis Hughes and Tim McDonnell the debut album was truly excellent full of quality on all levels: songs, production, hooks, playing and originality. This time around the group has been rebuilt with the line up being Otis Hughes- vocals, guitars, Tim McDonnell on bass/ vocals, respected musician Chris English on keys, guitars/vocals, Rob Knox joining in on drums (replacing original drummer Benji Rogers) and the addition of excellent Kary Wall (formerly of Crystal Ace) on guitars/vocals.

Again influences are spread wide and tastefully across this recording from seventies classic rock, quirky indie rock/pop mindset and pure psychedelic grunge rock: in general just over the top with smooth, stand out excellent songwriting.  Otis’ vocals are top line as always and songwriting never waivers from being so very talented. Having three vocalists and several writers is also a great benefit to the sound in addition to Otis and Tim’s foundation of the earlier incarnation of the group. English, Knox and Wall’s solid musical power round out the whole sound with a very original, enjoyable new release.

While of course fans of their previous work will truly miss Parris’s guitar abilities and contributions this record is a faithful and bold follow up that can’t be denied. It seems as if the group adjusted their sound with some great new musicians while remaining faithful to their influences and style they wanted to express. If anything this second album is a gathering of more eccentric songwriters and players expanding their sound as a whole. Comparisons to Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or Pearl Jam’s more eclectic side are really not accurate: all you can hear in M4’s sound is what you choose to find there based on what it reminds you of from so many enjoyable elements.  This one is a bit more folkish/garage rock, almost jazz fusion influenced in moments while being still loud psych rock, all songs are memorable and strong.

The lead off single/video “Spotlight” is my top track, it’s really great. My favourites include : “Bucket of Light”, “November” (which features Chris English on vocals) and the title track. Kary Wall is a highly skilled tasteful guitarist with no excess need for flashy playing. His vocals on “All Made Up” and “Nothing Forever” are also very good. Always a clever lyricist, Hughes choice of words brings to mind a more odd John Lennon as street poet meets a reflective Leonard Cohen style series of word pictures. Tim McDonnell’s bass skills are as expected, outstanding.  

If you have not heard anything by this band, pick up both of their cds and enjoy as a whole listen. M4 is a highly creative and talented band of players. Classic rock inspired jams resulting in a record full of hidden diamonds washing ashore from the waves on the vast seas of indie rock.