“The Charlie Wheeler [Band] exudes a toughness and desperation that can only be cultivated in the working class, unforgiving hills of of northern, PA, from which they hail. On their latest CD Rewind, they sport a driving brand of groove-rock that is reminiscent of the Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers Band, coupled with the blunt force of post grunge hard rock. Powered by the rhythm section of Rad Akers on drums and Dave Fink on bass, Charlie Wheeler describes his trio as a “song first” type of band. While expansive, improvisational jamming is a key component to their live show, Rewind (their third album) is a solid group of structured songs which allow Wheeler to tear into his vocal and lead guitar work with reckless, pent up hostility.
Rewind, uses a much more basic approach than Charlie’s previous CDs. Relying solely on bass, guitar, drums and vocals, Wheeler, along with producer and engineer Anthony Brown opted to make an album with “more mud on your boots and grit on your hands,” as Wheeler states. Wheeler’s guitar work is aggressive and in the pocket and always serves the song. He has a great mix of chops and soul, but it’s his voice that will get most people’s attention. There is attitude in his delivery that you just don’t hear that much in this genre. It’s conversational but the conversation always has a hint of “go f**k yourself”. Imagine Joe Strummer or Mike Ness singing the blues and you’re getting close.
While Charlie is a great guitarist and vocalist what really makes Rewind work is the song-writing. Strip away the crushing rhythm section, smoking guitar work, snarling vocals and we are left with a set of very beautiful and touching songs. From the tough, woman done me wrong of the opening track “Love Letter” to the sardonic humor of “Semi Good Lookin’,” Charlie introduces us to a cast of very memorable characters. “Makin Love in the Afternoon” tells the story of a couple who’s Facebook relationship status would mostly likely read “It’s Complicated.” He muses about mortality and human frailty in “The Ghost of Who You Were”, and while his lyrics may put a lump in your throat, the music always says, “get up off your ass and deal with it!” There is no shortage of muscle on this album. Wheeler’s guitar work and the band’s incessant grooving perfectly compliment the solid song-writing. Rewind will have you rocking hard and driving way too fast while you contemplate, life, love and loss.”
The Review: 8.5/11
Can’t Miss Tracks
The Ghost Of Who You Were
I Like To Wander
The Big Hit: Love Letter
Review by Lou Lombardi