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Melodic hard rock comes through in the latest EP from the Chicago based group, Men Who Listen. This four-track release is the Dec 2011 follow-up to their 2009 self-titled  debut. Dan Pokorni is the songwriter/guitarist who formed the group in 2008 on the heals of his own solo release. In speaking about the focus of Men Who Listen, he said, “I always loved hot guitar playing and great musicianship in general, but as I grew older I realized the stuff that had the most staying power was a great song. And that philosophy, unconsciously or not, is what MEN WHO LISTEN is all about. (Muen Magazine).”

Other than founder Dan Pokorni, Men Who Listen includes Jeff Anthony (vocals) as well as various of guest drummers and bass players.  This EP includes contributions from Emmy award winning drummer Greg Potter on the rock ballad “In the Blink of an Eye.”

Men Who Listen mingles a bit of 80s steady rock in the way of Dire Straits and Robert Palmer with a post-grunge feel akin to Matchbox 20. The EP sets off with the uplifting track “As Far As We Can Go”, followed by the edgier “Bad Days.” This second track is a timely tune, enhanced with revving guitars and steady drums, involving “politicians talking all kinds of nonsense.”

“Cast Our Love Away” builds nicely in its lamenting bitterness. The pouring out of passion in the final choruses does well to balance pop intro which is so neatly rhymed.

The last track is an overly simplistic diddy that unfortunately does not provide much inspiration. The song carries a carpe diem message, but feels more like a modern take on a mid-60s tune such as Spanky & Our Gang’s “Lazy Day.” The admonition, “It’s now or never to make things right,” is not supported by the music. Yes there’s some stomping and squealing mid-song, but the lyrics sound as if being read off a prompter.

Men Who Listen does alright with steady feel good rock.  Their songs include a substantial dose of pop with the occasioanal hard edge.  “What do you want the world to do? What do you want for you?” they ask.  Be passionate, inspirational, uplifting. Are you listening?

Rating: 2.5/5

www.menwholisten.com

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