Chris Ryan Blackout Money

With one of the cheesiest, wannabe rock star album covers on the shelves, Chris Ryan can be given credit for putting his dated, hard rock aesthetic up front where people can see it. Boasting "he writes songs that sound like a punked-up version of Led Zeppelin,” it makes him sound more brainless than anything else. Maybe it’s the self-assured cockiness of a songwriter trying to plug his first record, but there is nothing here that remotely touches the genius of Zeppelin and to suggest otherwise is simply stupid. Sure, there is great promise in the hard rocking "Start This Show,” but it’s almost immediately curbed by Ryan’s grating, generic you-did-this-I-did-this lyricism, which occurs in every single song on this EP. The same follows with the Van Halen-inspired "Deny It,” and the insipid "East Coast Liner,” both of which feature some hall-of-shame guitar solos. There is also the requisite power ballad "This is Just A War Machine,” in which Ryan’s vocals waver emotively. Again, Ryan is brave to wear his rocking heart on his sleeve but his music could surely benefit from some attention to subtlety. (Premium Issue)