The Commoners are a roots-oriented rock band hailing from Toronto, Canada. Comprised of Chris Medhurst (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Ross Hayes Citrullo (lead guitar), Ben Spiller (bass, piano) and Adam Cannon (drums, percussion), and often featuring organist Miles Evans-Branagh, the band has been successfully developing their very own modern stamp on classic rock. Influenced by enormous acts such as The Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers Band, and Led Zeppelin, the group is known for their intense vocals, formidable guitar sound and engaging compositions as well as for how they alternate between blunt heaviness and soft textures with complete mastery. Seeking to expand this approach and take it to higher heights, they have just released their latest album: Find A Better Way.
Responsible for mixing the title track, legendary producer Kevin Shirley (The Black Crowes, Joe Bonamassa, Led Zeppelin) guided the mixing and production of the rest of the album, which was carried out by lead guitarist Ross Hayes Citrullo. Being another crucial aspect of the whole endeavor, mastering was handled by sound engineer Pete Lyman (Tedeschi Trucks, Blackberry Smoke, Rival Sons). This effort results in the instruments being well-balanced and crystalline and the overall sound remaining tightly controlled yet still very spacious. Concerning the musical and lyrical concepts developed in the album, the band has successfully managed to use its compelling blend of soul, blues and southern rock to examine modern-day issues and the struggles of the everyman. The record also features the participation of a number of guest musicians who contributed invaluably.
The crisp riffs, robust organ groundwork and inspired vocals of the galvanizing “Find A Better Way” sets the album in motion while the excellent “Fill My Cup” occupies the space between Led Zeppelin’s mighty riffage and The Allman Brothers’ softer southern undertones. “Too Much”, on the other hand, is a pure pummeling hard rock number, driven forward by a riff of cosmic proportions.
The band reduces the heat for the southern soul ballad “Naturally” and its rich, layered vocal harmonies while the warm, comforting cut “I Won’t” touches on the type of country rock The Eagles used to write. Then, the epic number “Hangin’ On Again” unites all of the band’s influences in a climax of spellbinding musicianship, driven home by an utterly soul-searching slide guitar solo.
A strong candidate to be among the best albums of the year, Find A Better Way is a record that combines the best of both worlds; the familiar, celebrated appeal of classic rock and the modern, untamed edge and themes the genre needs to stay relevant in our present-day world. Undoubtedly, a must-listen for any fan of the genre.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Find A Better Way
– Fill My Cup
– Too Much
– I Won’t
– Hangin’ On Again
The Big Hit
– Hangin’ On Again