I dread very few things in this world. I don’t particularly like flying for example. Something about being trapped in a machine that I’m not in control of that has the capability to do major damage just brings out a sense of fear in me.
The other thing I dread is when a friend or friend of a friend says “Hey can you give this a listen?” or even worse “Can you review this album?”.
If you pay attention to this column, I try to avoid being negative in terms of reviewing things. Some times it can’t be helped when I’m asked to do an honest review (see my reviews of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman vs Superman) but on a whole, if it’s something I don’t dig. I just tend not to talk about it in this space. So when the guys who run this site passed over a copy of Leslie Hudson’s The Redhead League, I was worried.
Leslie is a friend of the show and while she and I have only met briefly once or twice, she seems rather nice. What if the album sucked? What if it was a mess? Due to the fact I tend to be honest with my reviews, especially when it comes to music reviews (feel free to ask Nerds with Guitars about my critiques), I was very leery of accepting the assignment.
I mean, we’ve heard Leslie on the show. There’s a solid chance she’s going to kill Andrew on air one of these days. Did I really need to fan those flames?
Luckily, The Redhead League is good.
It’s very good.
On this album, Leslie has taken all of our favourite redheads from geek culture and given them each a great song. It’s an interesting idea for a concept album that I’m kind of surprised hasn’t been done before but maybe it was just waiting for Leslie to come along and bring it to life.
I tend to have two complaints when it comes to a lot of nerd rock albums I hear. One: the albums tends to sound like a scattering of ideas as opposed to a cohesive work. Now, I know part of that is due in part to today’s musical culture of just buying songs here and there from iTunes, but I’m old fashioned. I like it when an album works as an album, something I can listen to all the way through without having to hit the skip button. The Redhead League sounds like an album with attention being paid to the overall piece as well as each individual song. There’s only one song that sounds a little out of place, the Red Sonja themed I Have A Name, due to it being a bit heavier musically than the rest. But I should also state for the record, this happens to be my favourite track on the album so while the opening of the track is a little bit jarring at first, the song in general kicks ass.
The second complaint I usually have with a lot nerd rock bands is that their songs are too …. well… nerdy. They are written for nerds by nerds with no regards to the general public. While it’s kind of nice to have music of our own, it tends to make the songs gimmicky and in the end, forgettable. Once again, not an issue with The Redhead League. If you pay close attention to the lyrics, yeah, they’re about characters from comic books. But if you’re not in the know about these things, most of them could easily be just great songs. I Have A Name, Welcome to Eden and Secrets, Liars and Spies are all well written, well executed songs that could easily fit on playlists beside Tori Amos or Ben Folds.
In terms of talent, even on a first listen, there’s no question that Leslie has something. Beyond the song writing, she also has a great set of pipes. Her vocals call to mind Tori Amos but not in a mimic way. More like if you like Tori’s sound, you will more than likely dig Leslie’s.
So at the end of the day, do I recommend it?
Yes. It’s not a perfect album (very few are) but it is really solid from top to bottom. For fans of nerd rock and redheaded comic characters, this is a must have. For music lovers of acts like Ben Folds and Tori Amos, you should also check this out. You might be surprised at how much you like it even if you aren’t up to date on the characters the songs are about.
Stand Out Tracks:
Welcome To Eden
I Have A Name
Secrets, Liars and Spies
Currently you can get The Redhead League digitally through Leslie’s website. If you prefer a physical copy, she will be selling them at her upcoming shows.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!