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  • Jonathan Widran

THE COMPLAINTS,

With the release of their sublime, world-wise, edgy yet dreamy, percussive and fiery yet tenderhearted album Chasing Light, The Complaints – a modern rock power trio led by guitarist/frontman Dean Petrella – mark approximately a quarter century since their debut album Fear. During that time, the award-winning Providence, RI originated group has been an indie juggernaut throughout the East Coast in addition to working with top rock producers and sharing the stage with Gin Blossoms, Train, Collective Soul, Nickelback and 3 Doors Down.

Though their website lists a repertoire of scores of classic rockers from over the decades that have populated their sets, the new eight track collection – that includes an intoxicating instrumental version of the acoustic driven, regret-filled heartbreaker “Let Heaven Fall” – makes the case, if there was ever a doubt, that The Complaints may kill on covers, but their alternately hard-rockin’/gently soulful tunes stack up well with the greats they’ve played with and whose songs they’ve added their unique vibe to.


Depending on whether Petrella plays electric or acoustic, The Complaints almost sound like two different bands, both anchored dynamically by bassist Chris Cruz and drummer Anthony Marotti. They start with the uplifting, propulsive day brightener “Chasing Light” before heading out the door and issuing a booming, hard blistering warning to a cavalier lover about hitting “The Bottom.” Talk about a powerful, fascinating contrast between light and darkness – but having lived so many rock and roll lifetimes, they’ve earned their multitude of life perspectives.


After the vocal version of “Let Heaven Fall” – truly the best song and emotional core of the album, IMHO – they bring a bit of punchy funk to the jangling, irony filled spiritual/philosophical romp “That’s What You Get” and a spirit of raging resignation to “Looking For Liars,” which explores the root causes of all miscommunication in relationships. The light/darkness contrast extends to the next two tracks as the trio follows the hypnotic acoustic-driven cautionary tale “The Ocean” with the booming, distortion-filled riot of “Can’t Kill a Killer.” Though he’s not an official bandmember, none of the dynamics and magic of Chasing Light would be possible with the group’s songwriting collaborator and good friend, Joe Martira. Petrella attributes the solid songwriting of the album to spending time writing and performing in Nashville, hanging out with some of the best songwriters in the world.

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