Johnny Reed is a rock / pop /alternative artist based in nearby Redondo Beach, California. Reed’s mission is to “pick up where classic rock left off and take it forward into 2020 and beyond.” He’s just released three new singles titled Rainbows on Mars, Break the Ice and The Message.
When you hear his music, Reed wants you to “feel the essence of rock greats like Pink Floyd, Queen, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, CSN, Elton John and more.” Aside from this, Reed was a bit shy in sending me any background info, but I did a little digging and found a few interesting tidbits. The first single Rainbows on Mars was selected for the “Chart-Topping Rock Artists Playlist” by the Reverbnation site for October 2023. Despite not considering his music to be heavy metal, Reed won third place (out of 100 bands) in the recent Metal Devastation Radio Battle Of The Bands. Finally, Reed knew fifth Beatle Mal Evans and was interviewed for the new Evans biography. Mal apparently told Reed he sounded like Paul, which is both flattering and true. I’ve also gleaned that Reed is a true solo artists and plays all the instruments on his albums (another Paul comparison!).
“Rainbows on Mars” establishes a very 70’s rock sound with crystalline acoustic gutiar, Rhodes-like keys and solid drums. As mentioned, Reed does have a sound and timbre similar to Sir Paul, but I also hear a bit of David Bowie… though it’s possible that the references to Mars are tricking me! “Traveling through outer space / Will there be peace in the stars / Will we find rainbows on Mars?” The song seems to pair the eventual taming of the night skies with a spiritual journey that literally takes the narrator beyond this earth: “And if you find God, what will you say?” The song features a small bit of soloing on both acoustic and electric guitars, just enough to move the song forward. Overall a quite accomplished single worthy of its accolades!
In “Break the Ice” Reed’s voice takes on a bit of John Lennon grit while the backing leans more to Elton-style piano. This one rocks a bit harder but with clean, swinging tempos and biting fuzz guitar proclamations. Toward the end Reed overdubs his vocals and expertly mixes them across the stereo field. The drums feel totally real and lively, and if he’s playing them I’m doubly impressed.
“The Message” takes a lateral move away from Paul and John toward Pete Ham and the Badfinger boys. This is a chunky, fuzz and keyboard-infused pop rocker that sounds like a lost classic from the early ‘70s. At first I thought the message was about being ghosted by a lover, but with Reed there always seems to be another level: “You’re living too fast and you’re hurting everyone that’s in your way… I’m sorry but I don’t think I can reach you, and I don’t think I can teach you anything.” The closing section drops out everything but the piano & synth to focus on Reed’s single vocal line, and you can almost see the spotlight picking him out on a darkened stage, leaning over the keyboard to sing his final words.
I loved these three songs (and some of the others I sampled) and can highly recommend this artist as someone to watch!
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