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Review: The Complaints – Talk to Me
by Joe Viglione
After The Complaints released the driving CD singles, Trade Up and the Chris Lord-Alge produced Southside Suicide they bring the angst down a few notches for this release, Talk to Me an exquisitely packaged and beautifully crafted collection of eight compositions along with a reworking of the first track, 'The View'. And it is a perfect way to open and close the disc, both renditions subtle and commanding, it’s the kind of melody and lyric that Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, and the Eagles would certainly wish they came up with.
Dean Petrella – vocalist, guitarist, keyboard player, wrote the majority of the words (except 'Mountains' which the liners note was written and performed by The Complaints and Adam Go.) 'The View' opens and closes the disc though it metamorphoses into two different perspectives a la George Harrison’s' Isn’t it a Pity' on All Things Must Pass, a light poppy venture to begin the journey, a darker quasi-dance mix to bring this very strong album to its conclusion. Play both View renditions back to back and it is most revealing.
Co-produced by the band and legendary engineer Phil Greene (Buddy Guy, John Cafferty/Beaver Brown, New Kids on the Block – as well as guitarist with the vastly underrated Swallow on Warner Brothers) the album is balanced and compelling.
'Hangin' Out' is one of four songs (of the 9 tracks) that hit the 3:52 mark, time-wise, most of the material clocking in around 2:40 – 3:20, short and sweet and making the point. It’s an easy going dissertation, at least by pop standards, with the next track, 'Atlas (Carry You)' a minute shorter. Both tracks – 'Hangin' Out' and 'Atlas' Triple-A rock with authority. And has it been 17-18 years since the Complaints released the Fear disc, with Criminal Mind in 2002? This veteran group just grows stronger through the years like fine wine and this recording has real staying power throughout.
'Wouldn’t Change A Thing' track five, has all the markings of a radio-friendly composition with the potential to be memorable. Talk To Me, which precedes it, also has that captivating mood. Phil Greene and The Complaints smartly combine their talents to create something very special. Each tune has its own identity, and the sequencing is perfect as the listener is taken on a journey. From 'Breathe', not the Pink Floyd song, to 'Home', drop the needle/sequence button anywhere and there’s something entertaining and thought-provoking within.
Chris Cruz on bass and vocals, Anthony Marotti on drums/vocals and Dean Petrella are The Complaints. Add Trade Up and Southside Suicide to this disc as bonus tracks and you have an amazing set of recordings.
The Complaints- Trade Up (Single Release)
Since their fierce entry in 1997 on both the Providence, Rhode Island and New England music scenes the Complaints thanks to impassioned lyrics, inflamed musical energy, and a rabid live following have been able to supersede relevance in both studio and live settings.
Even during the economic downturn the Complaints will often perform one hundred fifty to two hundred live gigs per year.
Dean Petrella (singer, songwriter, and guitarist), Chris Cruz (bassist), and Anthony Marotti (drums) encompass the band.
They have recorded three full length CD’s “Fear” from 1999, “Criminal Mind” released in 2003, and “Sunday Morning Radio” which saw the light of day in 2009.
It’s an injustice to pigeon-hole the group as only Modern Rock or Indie sounding. While they have been on the same bill as Collective Soul, Nickleback, Train, and 3 Doors Down (to name only a few) they also have shared the stage with Dave Davies (the Kinks) and the Tubes.
While there is the modern sound in the song structures you can also hear Flamin’ Groovies, Joe Jackson, Willie Nile, Graham Parker, and even some Rolling Stones (from the 1990’s and 2000’s).
“Trade Up” extends the level of consistency set in motion from the previous output. The first listen makes it simplistic to ascertain the group continues upward mobility with no fear of freefall. The single is well crafted with the guitar, bass, and drums establishing their turf with a perfect thirteen second intro. When the vocals arrive it’s an immediate knockout blow.
The production is stupendous. The vocals are never drowned out and there isn’t a competition between guitar, bass, and drums, but a harmonious exploration. “Sometimes you gotta trade up”, not with the Complaints. They have already achieved their purpose.
To learn more about the band and to purchase their music head over to: http://thecomplaints.com/
Biographer: Jefferson Airplane
MusicBusinessMonthly.com reviews Trade Up
Everyone can remember a song that immediately lures you into its inescapable groove. The Complaints, a powerful three-piece rock 'n' roll band from Rhode Island, accomplish just that with their latest single "Trade Up."
Singer-songwriter Dean Petrella conveys authentic urban streetlife in his gritty voice; even his "hey hey hey's" shout through the asphalt jungle. It's impossible to exaggerate the kinetic beat laid down by bassist Chris Cruz and drummer Anthony Marotti; rhythmic and sinewy yes, but also subtle and unpredictable. "Trade Up" is topped with Petrella's sensational power chords, his beautifully sustained string-bending lead notes, and some monstrous closing feedback.
Online Review of Trade Up from TMRZoo.com
Once again Dean Petrella is Male Vocalist of the Year!!
Deal Petrella - Male Vocalist of the Year!
Speaking of hard-working groups, our local boys The Complaints have been at it somewhere pretty much every night for more than a decade now, and their latest disc, Sunday Morning Radio, is a winning collection of tough, smart and tuneful rock (not surprisingly, if you know the band's oeuvre; it's got two songs inspired by Journal reporter Mike Stanton's book The Prince of Providence). They celebrate its release Sunday night at The Hi-Hat, 3 Davol Square, Providence. It's at 6 and it's free! Call (401) 453-6500.
This October marks 10 big years for Dean Petrella and The Complaints. "I can't believe it's been that long and we're still here! We were just boys when we started this whole thing." The trio is finishing its third full-length record. "It's been pretty slow going because of our busy schedule and we spent a lot of time and money putting together our own studio." You can sample a bit of their new work with a free download of "New Face" at (www.thecomplaints.com). Though reluctant to explain too much, Petrella says he wrote about his Dad's recent passing and the mixed emotions that went along with it. "I was inspired by some of my heroes like Elvis Costello, Neil Young, John Lennon, to try and take a sad subject and marry it to and upbeat pop-rock setting." You can catch The Complaints every Wednesday at the Escada Bar, at 1174 Douglas Avenue in North Providence. Call 401.353.8008 for details, but I'll tell you right now there's no cover and the band kicks in at 10 pm.
The service and food are top notch, yet the Complaints at Ri-Ra are still coming in. Double-check that capital C, grammar guardians, and you'll notice it's a proper noun were referring to. If the Complaints don't register with you, it's time to start registering with the Complaints. Do that by swinging into the famed Ri-Ra Irish Pub on Friday, Oct. 7 or Saturday, Oct. 8. Better yet, swing in on the 7th and the 8th to double your fun.
Audience reactions to the band have run contradictory to their moniker, as fans have been enjoying their gigs up and down the East Coast for more than five years. These steadfast performers have been maintaining a rigorous touring schedule, performing upwards of 200 gigs per year. Thats more than your average tinker, tailor or toiler works combined.
As for the music itself, the Complaints play cutting-edge modern rock. Whether youre aware of it or not, you may have already been exposed to this Providence, R.I., bands signature sounds. They've been featured on MTVs Undressed program, and are also heard frequently on various college radio stations.
The Ri-Ra pub is located inside The Quarter at the Tropicana. Catch the Complaints performances both nights this weekend at 11 p.m. Songs from their recent release, Criminal Mind (no relation to the Boogie Down Productions LP) will feature prominently in the sets. Those with weaker constitutions are advised to drink lots of coffee, because you'll be the one complaining if you miss either of these events.
Straightforward trio rock can be some powerful stuff-be it Husker Du or Iodine, it's amazing how thick and dangerous just guitar, bass and drums can be. The Complaints certainly have that edge. On Criminal Mind, they play intense, scowling rock with a mean left hook. It rocks, it's smart and singer Dean Petrella can sing one heck of an anthemic chorus. Even in their more mellow and playful moments like the intro to "No," The Complaints seem to be just barely restraining the urge to bang the hell out of their instruments. Throughout Criminal Mind they play straight-up, thoroughly enjoyable rock. .