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Now Hear This: Shake the Cage - Freddie Nelson

Rating: ***

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Freddie Nelson’s new album Shake the Cage is coming out on July 7, 2017! Okay okay okay. You’re probably asking yourself “Who’s Freddie Nelson?” I did too. When this ended up in my inbox I didn’t have the first clue as to who this guy was. No idea. Nothing. So, I googled him. From there I found out he was from Pittsburgh, PA. I have an ex-girlfriend from Pittsburgh and I quite enjoyed that town. They are famous for the Steelers, Sheets, and calling a group of more than one person “yinz.” I also discovered that he made an album called United States with ex-Racer X and long-time Mr. Big guitar phenom, Paul Gilbert. Now we’re talking. As tempting as it was, I decided not to listen to that album first because I wanted to go into Freddie’s solo debut with a completely fresh mindset. I poured myself a glass of wine, slipped on my favorite slippers, and gently put on my best headphones prepared for Mr. Nelson to sweep me away. Off we go.

Watch the video for “Hey Doll” below:

The first track on the album is called Turn You On. Whoa. This guy can really sing! It’s slightly reminiscent of another Freddie, iconic Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. Who he really sounds like is a guy named Jimmy Gnecco from the band Ours. Either way, the dude has pipes. The song itself is underwhelming. A decent melody but decidedly old-timey. It reminds me of what rock music sounded like right before Nirvana changed what rock music sounded like. Moving on to track 2. Hey Doll is the first single. It reminded me a little of the former San Francisco band Jellyfish. It’s well sung but lyrically cheesy (that becomes a theme). The song Light is next and I could see this being another single. It’s more of a mid-tempo ballad and really showcases Nelson’s vocal range in an earnest context. The next three tracks are fun, with Keep Running being a highlight before we get to the very OK GO-ish My Girl. This one sounds like it could be on the radio right now. A real power pop delight. The Show is track 8 and is my second favorite song on the album. Freddie can really sing a ballad and this tune is the perfect showcase for that. All Night Long is next and it’s the worst song on the album. Simple melody, corny lyrics, and serious flashbacks to bands like Bang Tango. This one is a hard pass. Monster in my Room is another ballad but this one is lyrically much deeper. Really good harmonies make this one a solid late album addition. The album closes with the fun, For Those Who Die. An upbeat rock and roll song with a jazzy call-and-response portion at the end that’s like Cab Calloway in spandex.

This album really catered to the butt-rock lover in me. It made me nostalgic for the party days of my late teen and early 20’s. That said, it’s not gonna be for everybody. It’s cheesy fun brought to you by a guy that can sing his ass off. If you’re into that, pick it up on July 7.