More stacks of rock and roll from the dollar bins at my second home Half Priced Books which is celebrating their 6th year of being in Cedar Rapids. I know I spend many waking hours hanging in the cd section or the celebrated dollar bins but in all honesty if it wasn't for HP Books in this area, I probably be under 1,000 CDs.
Half Priced Books remains the best place for the bargains that nobody wants to pay more than 2 dollars and the staff there know when something don't sell it gets shoved down to the bottom selves and of course my home in the basement so I know where to go. Modern rock doesn't sell very well and sometimes I'll take a chance on those horrid bands (Hit The Lights, Sin-arta) only to say fuck it and trade them in for more music. A never ending cycle so to speak.
Since Best Buy can't seem to get in the latest ELO or Jeff Lynne album or Saga 20/20 (although finding last years Rockpile live album used before Best Buy ever had it in, or never did) I basically took a look to see what was available and they had the latest Delta Moon Black Cat Oil used but I already had that so I settled on the 2nd album from hard rockers Halestorm which is lead by the Lita Ford/Pat Benetar vocalist extraordinaire Lizzy Hale who with her drumming brother forms this band. Thinking that I never heard them before it occur to me that both KRNA and KDAT, the Cumulus Cocksuckers that owned radio here actually played I Miss The Misery, (one time both KRNA and KFMW played that song at the same time). Take away the guitars and overdrive and Carrie Underwood could make it a country hit as well since she sounds like Liz but don't give them any ideas.
It comes roaring out of the gate with Love Bites (So Do I) to which Hale and company tear it up in a heavy metal vibe and she's not afraid to use the word Bitch, as she does in the opener and the witty You Call Me A Bitch Like It's A Bad Thing. Mz. Hyde even cops a bit of the opening theme of Doctor Who into another death metal lite song. But for some reason the album starts having a eye toward radio with I Miss The Misery which reminds me a lot like Ms. Underwood's Before He Cheats with the way Hale phases the word like some kind of country song with the amps turned all the way up. Freak Like Me is more hard rock before Lizzy does a 360 and throws out a couple back to back ballads, In Your Room one of more heartfelt ballads that wouldn't sound out of place on the odious KDAT station and separates Halestorm from the other modern hard rock bands, Lizzy Hale might be the bitch on the hard rock songs but on the mellower songs like In Your Room or Beautiful With You (another song that could be written for country if Taylor Swift or Miss Underwood covered it) Hale is that hopeless romantic that you can actually believe in. And begging to be with you before she returns to be the bitch rocker a few songs later. Taylor Swift would probably die to be like her. Even though Swift will sell a few more albums than Liz Hale.
The Strange Case Of Halestorm, while not perfect, three ballads in a row tend to drag this album a bit, but they know how to work and they got Howard Benson produced this (Benson of course produced the likes of 3 Doors Down, Saliva etc etc). Benson like Bob Marlette's production is easy to tell if you listen closely and they do have a ear for the radio. Whatever Atlantic does for Halestorm after this remains to be seen but Strange Case, while not groundbreaking is pleasant on the ballads and fist pumping on the rock numbers. It's perfect for rock radio in this day and age. And for KDAT on the smoother numbers. A win win for everybody.
Grade B plus
Pick hits: In Your Room, Love Bites (So Do I), Freak Like Me