There's this guy named Guy and he's a one man band in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you've never heard of him it isn't for his lack of trying. Guy Grogan's new CD, "Glitter In The Gears", is his tenth self produced and self released album. Oh, that's why you've never heard of him; he's self produced and self-released. In other words he's an unsigned artist or what is sometimes referred to as an "Indie" artist.
It used to be an Indie label was a privately owned record company that had distribution through one of the several "Independent" record distribution companies. These companies got records into record stores while the major labels had their own distribution companies. Getting Indie distribution was tricky because you first had to proof you were getting promotion which in the old days meant radio airplay. To get radio airplay as an Independent you would have to pay an Indie Radio Promo Man The majors also had their own in-house radio promo departments but also utilized Indie promo guys until another payola scandal would close that up temporarily. Once you got on the charts or even some substantial airplay on "Indie" stations (the major market radio stations wouldn't play your record until you charted on the minor markets which included College Radio, specialty shows and under 50,000 watt stations), the Indie distribution companies would then agree to ship your records to the stores in the areas where you were getting heard. The trick is that unless your song became a big breakout hit it only stayed in rotation at these small stations a couple of weeks, sometimes not long enough for the distribution companies to get it in front of the buyers while still fresh.
But these aren't the Good Old Days (in a lot of ways) and "radio" can now mean iHeart Radio, Sirius XM Radio, Internet Radio, Youtube, Facebook and dozens of other ways for your music to reach ears. Now people like me can be exposed to people like Guy Grogan who has won songwriting awards from Indie International, The American Song-writing Awards and the UKSC and whose 2016 release "Dynamite Bouquet" received heavy rotation on College Radio.
Now comes 2017's "Glitter In The Gears" with Guy playing all the instruments but having Santa Fe musician and producer Dennis Jasso at Fw Studios mix and master the CD. If you're curious exactly what kind of music Guy makes, asking him won't help: "Knowing what you sound like is kind of like looking into the mirror," says Grogan. "You see yourself but you don't have a real sense of what you look like to the rest of the world." That's very true and theoretically people like me are the ones to tell you what he sounds like. The problem with that is that even as Guy sees Guy through a filter of his own, I'm going to hear him through filters of my own.
So keeping in mind my Classic Rock sensibilities let's take a listen to "Glitter In The Gears"...
Okay, Power Pop pops up first, New New Wave style The Romantics, Foo Fighters, I guess "Indie Rock" is the term. Bouncy, catchy, heavily layered guitars as opposed to heavy guitars, fast but not frantic drums and clear, non strained vocals with power but no anger. If you like The Smithereens or Fountains Of Wayne you'll probably like Guy Grogan.
His softer side is more power ballad than folksy and his harder side is still melodic vocals over a little meaner guitar riffs. Good stereo separation (a thing for me) and a clean and textured mix even on the "louder" tracks makes this a pleasant listening experience without being a wimpy one. There are even some guitar solos (another thing for me). I like this CD.
Now for the bad news, from what I can tell from his press kit there is no live act behind this CD so what sounds very much like a real Power Pop band only exists in my stereo speakers (or headphones, my preferred listening mode). Once again I'm left wondering how deserving acts like Guy Grogan ever get noticed. Without major label money to pay for radio plays the traditional promotion method was touring. If I saw an ad for a Guy Grogan show what would I get? Would it be Guy and his acoustic guitar doing a singer-songwriter thing which would be nice but if I'm used to his CD and wanted to rock out, or dance (I never want to dance) I might be pretty disappointed. I guess I can always watch his performances on his Youtube videos. Whoops, I just checked, no Youtube videos. If you're going to use the technology of today to be a "one man band" Guy, use ALL the technology and have some videos too.