The Lonely H – Concrete Class

The Lonely H - Concrete Class

The Lonely H - Concrete Class

These guys have come a long way musically in the last few years and it’s worth looking back over their career and their growth at this point.  The band’s debut album, Kick Upstairs, was a lucky break for the 16 year olds from Port Angeles High School up in Northwest Washington, who won their way into Orbit Studios due to their second place win in Seattle’s 2004 Sound Off! music competition.

In their first album they focused on sweet melodies and sun-drenched harmonies and the songs had more of a happy, summertime feel to them with tunes spanning The Beach Boys to Weezer.  But at that time the guys were only in high school in a small city, but now they are living in Seattle going to college and have three full-length albums under their belt.  Just as they have matured so has their music, which has grown from their debut into the slightly more modern rockin’ with classic hints of their sophomore effort Hair and then moved fully into the classic rock territory on Concrete Class over with a nod to such groups as The Eagles and the Allman Brothers to name a few.

While The Lonely H boys knows how to craft gritty rock tunes with punched up guitar worthy of the 70’s, the members manage to infuse their music with moments that help to keep it from feeling outdated. “Going Out West” revs up the energy to full on electric guitars, although I have to laugh a little seeing as how they live just about as west as it gets.  The song seems a little heavy but the guys do it well and Mark Fredson’s vocals fit just as well in a screaming wail as they do in a heartfelt ballad.  “Diggin’ A Hole”  features a catchy hook and full bluesy sound with backing vocals and saxophone meshed with dirgy electric guitar. 

Standout tracks include “White Horse Tears” which slows it down for a piece with Fredson belting out about his yearnings over guitars, synths and some piano breaks.  A harmonica even fades the tune out.  “Singer” is another goodie with a sound reminiscent of The Eagles that works really well here.  “Take Care” is a heartfelt ballad alongside jangly guitars and piano about a love lost, and shows Fredson’s impressive voice at its most melodic. He even takes on a hint of a southern accent, singin’ about how a friend in Louisiana taught him how to sing the blues.  “The River” puts the focus on the vocal talent of the group with nicely layered vocals over nothing more than an acoustic guitar. 

Concrete Class wraps up with “Strike A Chord”, which continues to keep the album from fitting nicely into any one particular genre.  The song also provides a nice comparison with my favorite track off their debut album, “Zelda”, a piano-based epic ballad about The Legend of Zelda video game.  The song starts out with Fredson in faux falsetto over hoppy piano before rockin’ it out with layered vocal harmonies, crashing drums and an electric guitar solo that all ends with fade away chorals.  Two albums later, the guys bring us “Srike A Chord”, another piano-based ballad but with more grown up and  smooth vocals.  Singing, “we gotta hit the road”, the boys are alive, kickin’ and rockin’ their way across the nation.

It’s difficult to find a complaint here.  Concrete Class is a smooth and soulful album with an impressive range of rock and instrumentation that all flows together perfectly. But for all its polished sound and top notch vocals this ablum feels like just the beginning for the group.  Perhaps it’s a turning point from their youth into what they want to be and continue to grow as a band.  In their final song, they talk about hitting the road and how much they love being out there.  Even if they only get a hundred bucks a night they feel it’s all worth it and makes them feel glad to be alive.  The track has a distinct optimism and a feeling of new beginnings. I’m sure we will see may good things from these guys in the years to come.

The Lonely H
The Control Group