Stonewave really can be all things to all people. With Roger Lange's charismatic Josh Todd-like vocal, and the band's ability to bridge the divide between hard and alternative rock, Stonewave is Chicago's answer to Los Angeles' Buckcherry. Just as Buckcherry brought us both "Crazy Bitch" and "Sorry," Stonewave's self-titled debut album demands our attention with hard-charging Velvet Revolver-style hard rock (as on "Sign of Life"). But that's only half of Stonewave's one-two punch: They also knock us out with radio-friendly alternative rock that recalls a time when rock "ballads" could go platinum.
Whether light or dark, lead guitarist Jon Husiar provides a full complement of riffs, fills and accents, adding considerable texture to Stonewave's well-crafted rock songs. And as capable as Husiar's fine fretting: Kevin 'Bones' Cox's standout bass lines, as well as the album's overall technical production.
After the album's hard-rocking first half (e.g. "No More"), I was floored by the Stonewave ballad, "By Your Side." The song's introductory guitar-strumming is met by a well-placed drum fill that prefaces a catchy guitar riff, setting up Lange's compelling vocal. Lange's narrator is living "a beautiful morning / waking up next to you," after which he "can't wait for tonight / to hold you close for awhile." It's here, more so than on Stonewave's hard rock songs, that Husiar's melodic guitar fits in perfect combination with Lange's romantic lyricism, "I'll never leave you / I'll never make you cry / I'll always be here by your side."
Most if not all Hall of Fame-caliber hard rock bands topped the charts with an occasional ballad or two. We'd be lying if we said we didn't secretly love them for it. So too with Stonewave. Although they rock as hard as the next band, they're one of our favorites because they sing about the stuff we actually care about -- even the good stuff.
*** The author of this review, Johnny Wallace, plays the pandero for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8