About halfway into his album Other Side, the debut effort from Indiana singer/songwriter and guitarist Pete Calacci, there’s a song called “Headed for the Stars.”
The cut is a big, fat, radio-friendly and familiar-sounding original piece of rock and roll – – effectively channeling a Tom Sholz-like guitar and the sound of late ’70s-era Boston. Who would have guessed this sonic homage to a nearly 40-year-old self-recorded iconic rock album would come out of Indiana?
Other Side‘s soundscape is both a product of how Calacci – – a carpenter who works at the BP Refinery in Whiting during the day – – recorded the album and played a lengthy musical stint in an Indianapolis cover band. This solo work was created in his apartment, and he played all the instruments – – other than a couple background vocals and a keyboard – – and mixed it himself.
Far from a lo-fi, sounds-like-he-used-a-boombox effort, the record is clean and loud and full of hooks and riffs that surface by surprise.
I hear Paul McCartney and Wings, some Beach Boys and Beatles harmonies. The pop of Matthew Sweet and Marshall Crenshaw. I hear The Band. I like what I hear. And this record sounds good loud.
Calacci spent his early twenties living on the Southside of Indy, playing in a band called Stage One at clubs like The Backstage, Bentley’s and The Vogue, so he came by his ’70s and ’80s influences honestly.
The Other Side is an album whose music hits harder than the lyrics, and Calacci uses his guitar to give the heart of the record a loud, electric, amped-up sound that never really goes away.
The opening “Cold Hearted Woman” rocks like The Cars and Matthew Sweet – – a power pop confection that enters into Tom Petty‘s neighborhood. But the record never strays far from its essence – – a full-on, “let’s-rock” guitar album.
Calacci’s voice sits just atop the guitar on most songs, aching and arching just enough to allow genuine and welcome cracks as he both reaches during the rockers and guides the ballads. An acoustic guitar and his own harmony (and double-tracked) vocals give the punchy electric guitar a pairing to nicely enable a marriage of power chords with ragged vocal sweetness.
“Secret” has an underlying gentleness swathed in a pair of pop/rock dueling guitars.
“Fear” echoes a soaring “Behind Blue Eyes” – era The Who.
Calacci’s acoustic duo bandmate Kelly Skaggs sings on “Carpe Diem” and “Want Me Too.”
This is an album that demands its loudness. Think about driving down the road in an old Buick Skylark with the cassette player turned up as loud as the damn Sparkomatic would go. That’s the sound of this album, guided by Calacci’s electric guitar playing, and his ability to create one of the fullest, play-it-loud rock albums of the new year – – by himself.
Hear “Headed for the Stars”