Chevelle released their debut album Point No. 1 in 1999 on the now defunct label Squint Entertainment. The band consists of three brothers: Joe, Pete, and Sam Loeffler who together have become known for creating a raw and sometimes vicious hard rock sound. While their debut was weak in almost ever way, Wonder What's Next, their 2002 follow-up on secular label Epic Records, proves some time and a good producer can bring out the best in a band.
For me, Wonder What's Next leaves me wondering what's up with the trio. Lyrically and stylistically they've matured a lot but it's clear that their music is more soaked with angst and frustration than ever. The album opens with the powerful but angry "Family System" which offers some simple yet tasty guitar licks and rhythms. But be warned -- you'll find nothing uplifting about Wonder What's Next. While there's nothing obscene or offensive, you'll also be looking in the wrong place in Chevelle if you're longing for some hard-hitting words of encouragement or worship. In fact, the only real mention of God on the entire project is in the loud and passionate "Grab Thy Hand." Pete's vocals scream "God/ How I long/ How I long/ To Grab Thy hand and walk..."
A highlight musically but potentially a puzzler lyrically is the infectious "Comfortable Liar." A cymbal and grinding pick slide give way to an irresistable pounding beat and bass as Pete's emotional an effective vocals enter in to round out an excellent track. "Send The Pain Below" offers a little straight-up rock with dashes of angst as Pete's contemplative vocals describe what could easily be struggles with sin -- something every listener can relate to. "The Red" is one of the most memorable of offerings, as a driving guitar rhythm accompanying smooth vocal harmonies fuel the tale of a man's struggle with anger. "Wonder What's Next" offers a dark and moody guitar riff similar to something that may have appeared on their debut, except this time with the power that that album lacked. Lyrically, Pete expresses his frustration with critics or perhaps their experiences with the Christian music scene... ""You write music in the first place/ Always moving, refining, pushing forward the art that one's creating/ Looking to the right time to share it, and then the headaches of criticism/ Senior advisors/ Unseen people above twisting, distorting, that which we love, and never ending problems with money holding you back preventing progress... cause we play the blaming game/ Yes I mind, it's not your turn."
All in all, the trio of brothers has put together a solid and impressive rock album. While musically it may not be the most original as you're likely to think of other artists here and there while listening, it's a tight effort -- a leap above their debut... just don't expect anything to lift your spirits from this dark project.- Review date: 1/4/03, written by John DiBiase
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