Alexx Calise spent her childhood, like most great artists, buried alone in the pages of a notebook and finding comfort in her parents’ diverse and influential record collection. Around age 11, she showed her first sign of musical brilliance as she picked up a guitar and instantly began formulating melodies with the poetry she had already written in her head. Here’s where we usually say “..and the rest is history.” But wait! Not so fast! There’s so much left to say about this young prodigy, so let’s get started!
Alexx now resides in sunny Los Angeles, CA (I’m jealous already) and is currently endorsed by over 13 music/gear manufacturers (okay I’m beyond jealous), has appeared in several national TV commercials, shows and special programs and she has been featured in Blender magazine, Guitar World and the book How to Succeed as a Female Musician. Her music is in rotation on MTV/VH1 networks and thousands of radio stations across the nation. Most recently, her song “Morning Pill” was used for a One Tree Hillpromo. And the list goes on and on. So how’s that for a list of accomplishments at such a very young age? I’m impressed. Aren’t you? But even with all these aforementioned achievements, I think it is best if we let her music speak for itself. And now the journey begins!
Alexx has just released her 2nd album, In Avanti, collaborating with Grammy-nominated producer, Luigie Gonzalez. And that’s why we are here folks. Alexx showcases both a youthful and unique sound that fuses elements of hard rock, electronica and pop. Best of all, she mixes it all together with loud guitars, raw and soulful vocals and most importantly, angry lyrics. You got to have those. It’s a necessity. I could go on and on, as I usual do in my rambling habits, but as I said a paragraph ago, “let’s let the music speak for itself.” And now, without further ado, I present my CD review of Alexx Calise’s In Avanti in my usual style, dissecting it track-by-track. Enjoy!
The intro track starts out taking no prisoners as it begins with a driving force accompanied by a non-intrusive keyboard harmony. Nothing is sacred here to Alexx. She reminds me a lot of Kelly Clarkson’s soulful vocals. I’m a big fan of bridges, interludes and guitar solos (the craft of songwriting) so I naturally love the short vocal interlude that precedes the guitar solo here. It changes the tempo slightly, but elevates the tune dramatically, in my opinion. The guitars have just the right amount of warm distortion to give it that f#$k off attitude, but light enough to retain the song’s pop sensibility. Does that even make sense? It does to me! My favorite lyric from the song has to be “The hell with taking it slow, forget about pride and consequences.” As Alexx likes to point out, “we’re living in the present tense.”
I love this song! It’s the anti-interrogation song of 2010. LOL. It has that edgy “It’s My Life” Bon Jovi kind of vibe. “I know your ammo baby.” Alexx has wasted years on a lover and too tired now to try and make them understand. Get the hell out! It’s another hard-edged sounding song with catchy pop sensible roots. So far we’re 2 for 2!
Here’s a tune I listened to over and over and despite my best intentions, I just can’t seem to connect with it. I’m sorry Alex. The acoustic ballad is heart felt, warm and emotional, but it does little for me. It’s not necessarily a bad song. Every album almost always has a weaker tune or two, no matter if your Rob Zombie, Shakira or Lady Gaga. Musically, this isn’t a bad song, just mediocre. The lyrics never grabbed me the way Alexx’s other songs do. I think from the song’s title you can pretty much figure out what the song is about.
The intro reminds me intimately of Evanescence here. I love it from the get go! Alexx’s soulful lyrics grip and pull you in right from the start. I also really like the chorus line here. It feels like the natural progression Kelly Clarkson’s next work of art would have been following My December had RCA not ruined her career with radio friendly pop songs that are as much fads as that singing fast food fish commercial I can’t stand. Basically, the message to be found here is get used to it (ironically also the song’s title). You really need to experience and listen to this one with stereo headphones on as Alexx’s powerful vocals attack you from every which direction.
Here’s another track that would have fit perfectly on Kelly Clarkson’s natural follow-up effort to My December. By the way, I say that in a good way, as I am a big fan of Clarkson’s raw and honest song writing on the My December album, if you can’t tell. This is my favorite track off In Avanti. “It doesn’t matter what I do because everything’s always been about you.” Sound familiar? My wife accuses me of this everyday. “Nothing’s ever good enough for you.” Okay. This song is about me! Thanks Alexx. This song is crafted perfectly. I would have loved to hear a guitar solo in here, but you know what they say… “Nothing’s ever good enough for me.”
I could really hear this song being successful on the radio. It has the hardcore presence that Alexx commands, but the pop sensibility that would make a successful Pussycat Dolls hit song. Please don’t take offense Alexx. I mean that in a very good way. DJ, please play this song. I want to hear Alexx sing! It’s getting late in this review, but we’re not leaving until you play her song (get the hint DJ?).
I was expecting to hear Amy Lee belt out a lyric or two during the Evanescence-like intro, but I gladly welcome Alexx in my ears. “Why must you lose everything to find out what you need?” That’s a classic line. It’s so true! Alexx questions her lost love and proclaims how she can’t go on without him. Take her back dude!
I have to point out the fact that I love the spiraling guitar effect during the moody intro. This song reminds me of something. I just can’t put my finger on it. “Don’t try to feed me your lies cause this time I’m saying goodbye.” I guess we know what subject Alexx likes to write about. This song lacks the pop oomph that the other tracks feature, but I think Alexx gets her point across and that’s all that really matters. It’s a slow moody rocker.
No, it’s not the Miley Cyrus anthem or the catchy little tune from the Gene Simmons solo album. Where I had a problem with the “Cry” ballad, I did not have the same issue here considering the track’s slower nature. “My soul is running on empty.” I like that. “Game’s over without a warning.” I like that too. What Alexx wouldn’t give so she can see him again. What are you doing to these boys Alexx? LOL. Although I would have loved to see the album close on a hard rocking gem, this subtle rock ballad pretty much sums up the sentiments Alexx has been stressing the whole album. To her credit, qualms of the heart always make the most memorable songs in my opinion. Good job Alexx!
So it’s that time. Closing time. Did the DJ play an Alexx song for me? He sure did. My Sony Walkman rocked Alexx’s harmonious 9 tunes throughout the writing of this review. I think we have a winner here. Move over Kelly Clarkson and wherever you are at Amy Lee. We have a girl with talent here. Not only can she belt out some serious soulful vocals, but also she can shred that guitar. How many of you pop princesses can say that? While the world is still getting to know Alexx Calise, I feel privileged and honored to have been hand selected to write a review for her and I look forward with much anticipation to seeing her names light up arenas everywhere and of course, hearing her voice on the radio every time I start my car. Wishful thinking? I sure hope not. The girl has talent. Only time will tell. She has a smart head on her shoulders and the right looks to make it in the business. The sky’s the limit for Miss Calise. Check out her official website alexxcalise.com for more info, show dates and most importantly…support her by picking up In Avanti today!
Highlights: “Break Me,” “Get Used To It,” “Good Enough (The Dirty South Mix),” “My Song Version 2.0”