Iconic Eye – Hidden In Plain Sight
Sky-Rocket Records (May 2015)
Reviewer – Aaron Chatfield
Iconic Eye….. new one on me. Not a band I have heard of and certainly not one that I’d listened to any music by. So I can go into this open-eared and ready to be impressed.
According to the PR material, this is essentially a vehicle for guitarist Greg Dean’s writing prowess that has evolved into a full band. Recently winning Firebrand Rock Radio’s band of the year competition and securing a slot at Download Festival may indicate that the future is bright for the band.
The album features two vocalists, the current man at the helm Tim Dawkes, and Lee Small of Shy fame. The inclusion of Small sparked my interest, as I’m “that guy”… the one who prefers Shy with Small’s on the mic. Anyway… on with the show
‘I Can Feel It’ is a pretty good opener, with a staccato keyboard intro, that breaks into some classic keyboard flavoured melodic rock. Good AOR vocal, smooth and capable, although not remarkable. The chorus is suitably sing-along, which is what any band in this genre needs, but by the time the track closes I have pretty much forgotten it.
The mood changes considerably for ‘You’re On Your Own’, which could be a different band and feels like a different genre completely. More of a commercial rock sound, complete with jangly guitars. Not my cup of tea and to me, it’s just a little out of place.
Back to the melodic rock sound with a mid-tempo rocker by the name of ‘Every Little Thing’. Some nice keyboard arpeggios going on, but for me, the guitars aren’t loud and punchy enough to drive the song along. Surprising, considering it’s essentially the guitarist’s band. Another sing-a-long chorus. It’s not pushing any boundaries, but I can imagine a long car journey with this as accompaniment.
‘Don’t Stop Me From Leaving’ starts off with some clean guitar and builds nicely into another mid-pace track. The bridge and chorus are bigger than the previous tracks and you certainly get grabbed by the scruff of the neck and forced to sing the chorus along with the band…. Which is after all, what you want from this genre.
‘Now That I’ve Found Love’ is the stand out track for me, although I’d still like that guitar turned up a bit. A great keyboard motiv sets the tone and it builds from there. I especially love the galloping riff in the verse. The chorus is the business and I am back in that car, this time on the highway in the good ole USA, with the top down and Tawney Kittaen hanging on to the ‘hood’ for her dear life!
The tempo drops on our sixth track, ‘Broken Dreams’, which is the albums first power ballad. Classic Thunder springs to mind, which is no bad thing. Classy bluesy edge, it really reminds me of Thunder’s classic, ‘Don’t Wait For Me’.
Following up a ballad is important; you’ve got to re-establish the rock core with a solid track. ‘You Knew’, just about does this. Good tempo, with a fairly forgettable verse, but the chorus is the star of the song. You will soon be singing along to this one…. Until it literally stops dead! Took me quite by surprise and I would have been tempted to fade the track out on a repeat of the chorus
‘Better Place’ brings the guitars to the front, which I think suits the band. It’s not a great song, certainly a filler, but it’s still capable, with a singable chorus.
‘You Make It’ is a great AOR track. Guitars are there, complete with some glorious keyboard washes and a solid vocal performance. The chorus shines.
‘Let It Rain Down’ is another power ballad, graces the speakers, riding a nice piano chorus. The band kicks in at the bridge, which takes us to a big emotive chorus. Alongside the previous ballad, it’s clear that Iconic Eye can write these slow-mid tempo ballads.
‘All She Needed’ continues the quality, mixing in some acoustic guitar to this rocker. The chorus is catchy enough, the vocals soar in parts and the solo work is solid. Nothing new or remarkable, but a good album track.
The final track on the album is another power-ballad, ‘Here I Stand’. The vocals have a slight whiff of Gary Hughes in the chorus and bridge and the track wouldn’t have been out of place on Gary’s Now & Then debut. Whilst it’s a very emotive track and a great listen, I am not convinced that it is best placed as the albums closer. It doesn’t leave me wanting to put the album back on.
Overall this is an OK album. It’s not going to blow your socks off, but it’s a good listen and has some excellent moments in the shape of the two power ballads and Now That I’ve Found Love. If you are a fan of FM, Dare’s debut and other classics, then this would be of interest to you, but there is a still a way to go before Iconic Eye can take over the World.