Back in 2004 I started my first band with my good buddy Steve. We were extremely green and didn’t have an official practice space, so we would spend a lot of nights just driving the streets in Steve’s jeep listening to each other’s current musical obsessions. While I was back pedaling in my favourite 90’s bands, Steve was balls deep into the hard rock trend that was hitting its stride alongside the emo craze. All or Nothing, the fourth offering from Laval, Quebec’s One could easily have worked its way into Steve’s six CD changer had it been released fifteen years ago.
First off, I need to give a heartfelt, slow golf clap for a band still releasing full-length albums! Having twelve new songs to listen to, carefully constructed by one band (get it?) is a breath of fresh air in the murky musical landscape that is presently drowning us in EPs and singles.
Now for the flipside, and I realize that this is slightly contradictory, but by the sixth or seventh song it was beginning to grow a bit tiresome, as the stench of filler began to invade my nose and molest my ears. What does filler smell like? Listen to the second half of any Nickelback album and I guarantee the air will fill up with the putrid stench. One’s sound is similar to Nickelback although quite a bit heavier; bands like Shinedown or Puddle of Mudd or Tantric or 3 Doors Down or Three Days Grace (get my point?) would be much better comparisons.
But let’s change gears. I don’t think All or Nothing is a bad album. Though the album title portends extremes, this album seems to deliver…a little bit of something. (Too late to change titles, I guess.) “Clawing At My Insides” is actually a scintillating track with some throbbing hard-rock riffs and an ear worm of a chorus. Singer Danny Rossi puts the “lead” in lead vocals; his voice elevates this song and makes it viable for radio play and commercial success. It also doesn’t hurt that All or Nothing is clearly well produced, mixed, and mastered! Every instrument sounds crisp and is given enough space to breathe, none of the musicians over play, and yet they all clearly have chops.
“Am I Beautiful” follows suit with some major-league power riffs from guitarist Chris Staniforth, while Rossi ruminates on the chorus, “Am I beautiful tonight?” On this track I would answer with an emphatic “Yes!” What follows are a bunch more tracks that sound relatively the same. None of them are really weak, yet none really separate from the pack. “Annie” is a slower, more acoustically-driven ballad. It’s nice, but at best it’s a predictable attempt to change the pace.
It is blatantly obvious that One have their hearts set on playing big arena shows, and truthfully I feel they have the tools to make that a reality. Sometimes all it takes is for one song to catch on for a band to gain some serious traction. There are a number of songs on All or Nothing that can accomplish that task. On a personal level, when I listen to new bands, I’m listening for something that makes that band unique or at least strives to propel a common style in a new and interesting direction. In that regard All or Nothing gave me nothing. But I’ll be sure to slip a copy into Steve’s jeep the next time I’m in his neighbourhood and he’s got the top down.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Kate Erickson