Readers may recall from an earlier review of the self-titled debut album in September 2007, that Smokekiller is the stage name for Saskatoon-solo performer John Antoniuk.
That debut album was one which didn't immediately impress, but gained strength with a few listens.
No worries this time around. Smokekiller has grown as a musician, and 13 starts off strong, and holds your attention from the get go.
The strength here is a sound which is mellow, akin to some of the rock of the past. For example, the lead cut California could just as well have been performed by the Beach Boys, as a sort of slower number for their repertoire. Smokekiller does a really nice job of the piece, a cut that should find radio itching to slot it into the summer rotation.
Interestingly, the song You've Got a Hold On Me reminds me of the Beach Boys rock generation too, not as party rock as the Beach Boys, but the same underpinnings of style.
Smokekiller recently showcased at Canadian Music Week in Toronto, and if his live music matches the CD, he no doubt earned some attention.
At least the material on the CD is very strong given its mellow rock genre stylings. Cuts such as Out There are offered up in a relaxed, bop along to the beat styling, which is quite infectious. It's plain hard not to get into the rhythm of the music here.
There are a number of cuts here that could make radio, including the aforementioned California, Hover and Sunshine.
Overall, a CD which takes Smokekiller to a whole new level in terms of his music. It is impressive to see such growth in material, especially since many performers see a drop off in their second album, having less time to prepare for it. Antoniuk avoids the sophomore slump here and takes a major step forward. It will be interesting to see how he grows with his third album. Until then, just enjoy this one.
Check it out at www.smokekiller.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper March 25, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada