Jamie Fontaine & The Level – Self Titled – Album Review

Jamie Fontaine & The Level, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, recently released a self titled debut album on Stryker Records that will fill your earbuds with all of the contemporary rock sounds they can handle. Colby Peters does a great job building the foundations of all 10 tracks from behind the drum kit. Joseph Weise lays down some killer bass lines, that you should really keep an ear out for, especially on “Bad Side”. And then there is Jamie Fontaine. When you are the guitarist/vocalist for a 3 piece band, you are taking on quite the load. It’s not an easy feat. Fontaine doesn’t just pull it off, he nails it! His voice is perfectly suited for the genre, as a cross between the late, great, Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Scott Stapp (Creed), and Shaun Morgan (Seether). It’s a deep, bassy tone, but the man also has that perfectly controlled rock howl when the songs call for it. On top of that, his guitar skills are more than proficient as he wails on some killer solos throughout the record.

The band does a great job of putting their own stamp on the current rock melodies. The album opens with “Whore”, that begins with an acoustic intro that also has a clean electric playing over it, which is a cool effect. The album often layers in an acoustic guitar, which really fills out the sound of the songs. The second track, “Scars and Melodies” is a true standout rock song! Not only musically, with its intro build, great modern rock chorus, really cool breakdown after the choruses, thumping bass, and those great rock vocals on full display, but the lyrics about a lost love fit the music and vocals perfectly. It’s one of those songs that you can just feel as you’re listening to it. “Home” shows the mellow side of the band, driven by that steady bass and kick drum that your head will automatically bob along too. “I Aint Coming Home” closes the album as a ready for radio mid tempo track that again balances the electric and acoustic guitars for a full bodied sound that crescendos with every chorus. Fontaine’s vocal’s on the track, and the whole album for that matter, are just saturated with feeling and emotion.

This album does not have a bad song on it. Every song is well crafted and the lyrics are relatable and sincere. The production on the album is well done, every song sounds has that full rock feeling. If you are fan of popular hard rock from the last 20 years, you will enjoy this album. It balances all aspects of the genre perfectly. Stop reading, go listen. It’s definitely worth your time.

-Sam

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