By the end of the 1990s, rock music had taken a nosedive into a pit of the absurd and unthinkable.
With the decades' early hit-making bands having imploded, a repugnant slew of acts, whose names and music sounded like they had gone through the garbage disposal, attempted to fill the massive hole.
During this period, many fans lost any faith they had left in rock music.
Since, few have produced anything that semblances the seminal rock of the early to mid '90s. Ted Hovis is stepping up to enclose the void and defibrillate those with a heart for memorable rock songs.
Hovis' sophomore album, "Let It Shine," released in late 2010, picks up where the final chords of the initial careers of Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains left off. He incorporates the guitar and vocal qualities that were centric to those bands' success, while also bringing in some influence from U2's work of the same period.
Hovis is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter based out of Washington, D.C. In 2009, nearly a decade following the release of his first album, "Change in Progress," Hovis experienced a soccer injury that pushed him back into recording. After recovering from a broken wrist, which kept him from playing the guitar for the longest period since his teenage years, Hovis was overwhelmed with the desire to pursue music on the professional level again.
Hovis dived hard into "Let It Shine," writing all the music and lyrics for the album, while also laying down the vocals, guitar and bass, with producer Kevin Guttierrez providing additional instrumentation. Composer Jamie Kowalski also stepped in on the keyboard, adding a contemporary edge.
There are two things that stand out about "Let It Shine," the first being Hovis' vocals. Hovis has an incredibly wide range. If the album wasn't heard in a whole unit, listeners might think they were hearing two to three different artists. Hovis can easily bend his voice in whatever direction is necessary, even reaching falsetto highs on occasion. His voice is unique, while remaining reminiscent of his influences. Hovis could pass as a Bono doppelganger on "Twisting in Denial."
The second notable quality of "Let it Shine" is Hovis' guitar and bass work. Hovis is accomplished at both instruments and has an excellent sense of rhythm. He knows how to make each instrument complement the other, without his songs sounding muddled. In "The Well Has Run Dry," Hovis single-handedly pulls off a sound that is hard for two, let alone three, people to accomplish.
The richness of "Let It Shine" was no doubt achieved by multi-track recording, but Hovis' ability to bring together the multiple parts so well is admirable. Developing one component of a song is hard enough; Hovis manages several and constructs them into songs several layers deep.
"Let It Shine" is well produced, but it will be over-produced for some. Those looking for an organic product will be turned off by the synthetic noises that make regular appearances on the album. "The Place You Call Home" could use a lot less drum machine, that's for sure.
Ted Hovis' music is more pop-driven than his predecessors, but should satiate the appetites of those who have been waiting far too long for some decent modern rock music. Many of the songs on "Let It Shine," especially "Pocketful," beat most of what receives heavy promotion today, leaving an imprint on the ears that doesn't quickly dissolve.
Ted Hovis is online at http://www.tedhovis.com.