Album Reviews

On Display
The Joey Gaydos Group

By Bonnie Stiernberg

The journey from child stardom to rock glory is one that is attempted by few and completed by fewer. However, 15-year-old Joey Gaydos Jr., who played lead guitarist Zack Mooneyham alongside Jack Black in School of Rock, appears to be well on his way. Joined by drummer Nick Brandon and bassist Jonathan Redmond for his new album, On Display, Gaydos sets out to prove that he didn’t peak at age 12.

Anyone who’s seen School of Rock knows that Gaydos can play. The child prodigy has grown up a bit since we last saw him on the big screen, and he delivers with performances reminiscent of rockers almost 50 years his senior. (Try not to fall out of any more trees, Keith, or Gaydos could be your successor one day.) The guitar-driven tracks like “Where You’re Goin’,” “Wake Up Your Mind” and “Get Out of My Heart” prove to be the better songs on the album. The former also features great work by bassist Redmond.

The big surprise of the album is Gaydos’ singing. Remember, this is the same kid who struggled to stay on key and sheepishly told Jack Black, “I’m no singer” in the movie. However, his vocals work well for the most part, and the uneasiness from the film is replaced with the bravado of an up-and-coming rock star. Gaydos’ best vocal track is “In Your Dreams,” where he sneers, “You think you’re something/You think you’re something/Only in your dreams.”

This isn’t to say, though, that Gaydos doesn’t at times sounds young and inexperienced. Once in a while, we find a flash of teenage awkwardness in his voice, but when his voice finishes changing, Gaydos will be as good a vocalist as any.

His riffs and solos are still the main appeal of this album, and fans of his guitar-wielding character in School of Rock won’t be disappointed. With On Display, Gaydos and company remind us that while you may not be old enough to drive, you’re never too young to rock.

Boys Like Girls
Boys Like Girls
[Columbia Records/Red Ink]

By Steve Marovitch

Sometimes album covers are misleading. I’m a sucker for eye-catching cover art, and this little aspect of my life has established itself as a liability more than once. Well, it’s happened again, and the saying, “never judge a book by its cover” never had as much relevance to me as it does now. Boys Like Girls’ new self-titled album is a mind-numbing collection of corny emo tracks. While listening to this CD, my body naturally rejected the sickly sweet songs and threw them up in the form of a gnarly headache. As far as I can remember, I’ve never gotten a headache reviewing an album before, but the whiny vocals and repetitive guitar riffs on this CD were enough to change that.

At first, I was surprised this band has so many fans – they’ve got over 100,000 friends on MySpace, and they’re in competition for one of’s artist of the year awards. But, then I realized something: this sort-of emo/lightweight punk has taken over where Britney and *NSYNC left off. Pop groups like the Backstreet Boys have disappeared and been replaced by The All-American Rejects, Fall Out Boy and more pertinently, Boys Like Girls. So, instead of worshipping Lance Bass, girls in junior high school can now worship Tyson Ritter.

Just because they have fans doesn’t mean they’re good; this album is far from it. The majority of the songs are irritatingly repetitive and filled to the brim with jaded, sappy lyrics. Case in point, the single “Thunder,” which even includes a Keanu Reeves-style “whoa” in the middle for even more Orange County appeal. This CD is chock-full of the kind of crap you would expect to hear on MTV’s Laguna Beach – a reliable indicator of bad musical taste.

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