Review: Adelitas Way – ‘Adelitas Way’

Posted: July 1st, 2009
Contributed By: Nick

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Release Date: July 14th, 2009 via Virgin
Adelitas Way is:
Rick DeJesus (Vocals)
Chris Iorio (Guitar)
Keith Wallen (Guitar/Vocals)
Derek Johnson (Bass)
Trevor Safford (Drums)

Overview: About a month ago I interviewed Adelitas Way front-man and founding father Rick DeJesus. When I asked what his current home of Las Vegas is like, Ricky got that kid in a candy store grin and shared a few anecdotes that bordered on TMI. Ironically enough, it was Rick’s flight from the sins of friends in several other cities he once called home that eventually led him to Las Vegas. His earliest incarnation of Adelitas Way did ok I guess, I mean, if you consider having the number one song on Vegas’ rock station a big deal. And other than a frightening, GPS-gone-awry detour in Vice City, Mexico, DeJesus has never looked back, earning the prized major label deal of his dreams in autumn 2008. After inking with Virgin Records, Rick, guitarist Chris Iorio and drummer Trevor Stafford headed for Groovemaster Studios in Chicago where producer Johnny K (Staind, 3 Doors Down) awaited their arrival. Before Adelitas Way started touring in support of their new record, the band expanded with the additions of a permanent bassist and an additional guitarist/vocalist in Derek Johnson and Keith Wallen respectfully. Now on the road and with a single titled “Invincible” climbing the charts, Adelitas Way are set to unveil the group’s official handshake to the world aka their eponymous Virgin Records debut on July 14th.

The Good: ‘Adelitas Way’ kicks the doors open with the throbbing “Invincible”. Funny, as one of the finest qualities of “Invincible” is the chorus’ subtle yet effective vocal harmony, adding tremendous breadth to Rick’s voice. “Invincible” is surprisingly tidy and laid back right up until the song’s final lap, with Adelitas Way pulling the trigger at the perfect moment. Although an everyman ma and pa modern rock tune at the core, “Scream” is finessed by a tight groove and a stupid catchy chorus that neither has nor needs a true hook. “Dirty Little Thing” wears many hats, and fits them all quite well. The multi-faceted number sets the mood with H.I.M.-esque riffage, while towering, concise choruses make for a smooth transition into silky, rhythmic verses. Trevor Stafford’s drum work is the bridge of “Dirty Little Girl”, giving the atmospheric passage extra space which, in turn, makes his hits more eccentric. Super lush is the super ballad “Last Stand”, prettied with soaring, quasi-existential choruses and a searing, 90’s-inspired guitar solo. Session drummer Robin Diaz craftily tracked “Last Stand”, utilizing the oft-forgotten cross stick to completely transform verse two while beautifully laying down a beat in 3 to off-set the divine final chorus. Little things go a very long way on “Last Stand”, as the haunting whisper “reach out” in the second pre-chorus and the orchestral high harmony at 2:02-2:17 pay testament. “Hate Love” is bouncy, upbeat, eager, and without question a top 40 sleeper. You can closely feel the jilted conviction throughout “So What If You Go”, a hot-tempered slab of a man scorned pacified by warm, heavenly layers of choir harmony. While the harmonies of “So What If You Go” are cool, the sharp silent pause synced with the exclamatory “No!” of its second chorus is even cooler. With the twinkling, porcelain “Closer to You”, Adelitas Way have a ridiculously easy way of bedding chicks. Ricky D flows with genuine passion, wrapped snugly within prominent, crisp acoustic guitar strums that truly come alive when heard through headphones. Props to Trevor Stafford for astutely cleaning up the intro of “Closer to You”, losing the excess ghost notes from the demo for a much, much better result. “Just A Little Bit” is bumpin’ and drivin’ with a hulky groove, a suhweet pre-chorus, and superb hi-hat dynamics to keep you vibin’. Adelitas Way create a colossal ambiance with the sultry “All Falls Down” by utilizing a combination of Latin-tinged flavors, enveloping snare drum reverb, and tortoise-like dynamics. ‘Adelitas Way’ gets a prime time jolt through the hustling, lively “My Derailment”, which might be the album’s hidden gem; the roiling tune’s 2:07-2:31 stretch is the ballsiest 24 seconds on ‘Adelitas Way’. “Brother” is the final game of Adelitas Way’s season, a bittersweet tale of Rick DeJesus’ sibling falling prey to a heroin addiction. “Brother” is bursting with vivid, concrete language, most of which is extraordinarily eye-opening and cathartic. Musically, “Brother” strays far from the “final track=sappy acoustic guitar ballad” cliché, built with a spirited blues vibe bolstered by power chord strikes throughout the song’s chorus. Chris Iorio’s epic guitar solo writes a great last chapter for “Brother”, a well thought out, well executed tasteful piece that, most importantly does not smother the track’s peaceful flow.

The Bad: We begin with “Scream”, which is nearly identical to Modern Day Zero’s song “Way Out” only with a bit more polish. “Dirty Little Thing” and “Last Stand” are two of the album’s star attractions; however when I hear the duo, I think Hoobastank (“Dirty Little Thing”) and Daughtry (“Last Stand”), rather than Adelitas Way. “Hate Love” is a can’t-miss hit but sports no real defining characteristics, which softens the tune’s potential impact. So what if the pre-choruses of “So What If You Go” were to go, because they fail to follow suit of the song’s overall direction. Plenty of folks seem to think “Closer To You” is going to be Adelitas Way’s big meal ticket however I just don’t hear it. Sure, “Closer To You” has all the credentials to make it a potential chart climber, but the ballad’s tools are not strong enough to make a lasting impression. Adelitas Way must have listened to Metallica’s self-titled album before penning “Just A Little Bit”, as the song’s lead riff and bridge are obvious by-products of “Enter Sandman”. The band apparently also broke out a copy of Hinder’s ‘Extreme Behavior’, specifically track six, for assistance with “All Falls Down”. Overall, the biggest hurdle ‘Adelitas Way’ has to overcome is making the album stick despite an overall lack of immediacy. In other words, it takes a few spins for ‘Adelitas Way’ to truly hit, which could cause would-be fans to search elsewhere for their latest quick modern rock fix.

Bottomline: The thing about ‘Adelitas Way’ I love most is how slowly the record grows on you. I know that sounds strange, but albums that keep me patient and keep me coming back are the ones I keep listening to years and years down the road. Examples include Nothingface’s ‘Violence’, Disturbed’s ‘Believe’, A Perfect Circle’s ‘Mer De Noms’, and DoubleDrive’s ‘Blue In The Face’ just to name a few—that’s some pretty good company. And while ‘Adelitas Way’ has much to prove before the LP can sit with said albums, Adelitas Way offer up a lot of reasons to have a lot of hope for the future.

TuneLab Rating: 8.5 out of 10