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CD REVIEW: The Cla-Zels - Flower of the Gold Rush

By: Cyrus Rhodes




Artist/Band: The Cla-Zels
Album: Flower of the Gold Rush
Label: Independent Artist

Genre: Blues/Rock, Alternative Rock
Sounds Like: Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benetar, Four Non Blondes

Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Train to Alabama, The Paper, Title Track
Weakness: Short Sided CD, Dated Sound


The Cla-Zels are a 4 piece rock band that hail from Cincinnati Ohio. Band members include: Jason Erickson (Vocals, Lead Guitar), Joanie Whittaker (Vocals Rhythm Guitar),  Brian Beaverman (Drums) and Chris Barlow (Bass). Their latest album entitled: Flower of the Gold Rush is their third album to date.

The CD kicks gets off the ground nicely with “Train to Alabama” an impressive intro groove that serves up slamming blues rock groove against dynamic rhythm, walking bass lines, effective harmonies and soulful melody from Erickson and Whittaker. Track 2 “The Paper” keeps thing moving in the right direction with heartfelt vocal delivery from Erickson with steady flowing guitar ambience against a grand slam chorus making for an impressive follow up piece. Track 3 “The Answer First” is another impressive slow moving ditty that flows and ebbs it’s way through to emotional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic R&B, Americana, with brief touches of 80’s Rock. Music is reminiscent of classic Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benetar, Four Non Blondes, with brief splashes of The Black Crows even The Waitresses. Along the way besides the four piece standard you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive solo guitar, well placed percussion, and lush harmonies layered everywhere. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to singer Erickson - as for his vocal abilities, he’s impressive. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timber that works well within the confines of this catalogue. His guitar playing is equally as impressive and I didn't fail to notice a few hot to the touch guitar solos along the way. I also like how well Erickson and Whittaker harmonize together- like a hand in glove. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board. This CD from The Cla-Zels delivers 10 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music of The Cla-Zels has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From the rocking “title track, and “Jellybean” to heart felt “Nierika’s Eyes” and “nighttime Fare” to grooving “Wood Country” to psychedelic Dear Candy” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 10 “All the Way”  the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.   

Perhaps 2 or3 more tracks are need to make it a fully loaded release and really hit it out of the park. The Cla-Zels possess a sound reminiscent of bands popular in the 80's thus making their overall sound a tad bit dated. I would recommend to The Cla-Zels slightly modernize their sound just a bit making them more marketable. I'm not a fan of the cover art.  

From start to finish Flower of the Gold Rush is an amazing collection of music from The Cla-Zels. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of this 4 piece and is rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old fashioned no holds barred R&B Rock swagger.

Cyrus Rhodes

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