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"Review: PromiseLab - When The Lights Go Down"

Baltimore, Maryland quartet PromiseLab was born as a duo in the basement of a row house and has metastasized into a soulful, rock band with a sound that demands to be heard. Singer/guitar player Shayne Hudson and drummer Larry Rohleder were the genesis of the band, with bassist Jon Adams and lead guitar Keff Klinetob filling out the roster. PromiseLab released their debut album, When The Lights Go Down on Rohleder's Tbn Audio label and are ready to take their brand of Rock N Roll to the world.

There's a mellow vibe that pervades When The Light Go Down. Opening with the title track, PromiseLab uses a blend of Rock, Funk and Soul to create a groove that makes you want to dance and sing along. Wrong Way finds PromiseLab seemingly trying to capture a middle ground between Hootie & The Blowfish and John Mellencamp; its quasi-Americana feel plays right into this blend sonically. Everything thus far sounds good, but I'm still waiting for a track to knock me out, blow me away or however else you care to think about. For all of the talent and decent sound that are part of When The Lights Go Down, that wow moment never comes. Songs like Stand By, New Dawn and Where To Now provide that easy-to-consume, easy-to-forget vibe that makes for great pop radio fodder but doesn't really make a lasting impression. Even on more upbeat songs like Burned Again the emotional Pop oomph just doesn't appear. The best moment on the disc comes with the last song, 1991, a country song that seems more authentic than the rest of the material presented on When The Lights Go Down.

PromiseLab is a talented bunch of musicians who are decent songwriters and would make for an enjoyable live show. On recorded media the cracks show a bit too clearly. While the songs offered by PromiseLab are pleasant and listenable, they didn't stick with me in any substantive way even after a dozen trips to the CD player. The album is good, but there isn't anything here that hasn't already been said or done better, and the end result is a pleasant bit of music without much bite.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)
- Wildy's World

"Luna Kafe Record Review"

PromiseLab is Shayne Hudson and Larry Rohleder with some guest artists. The opening title song sets the tone with a funky Red Hot Chili Peppers-like song about a bad girlfriend. "Wrong Way" is soft and resembles other radio-friendly ballads, but has a spirit of its own and Hudson's vocal is nicely delivered too. "Stand By" is successfully rendered and has a nice melody and chorus. "The Turn Around" is equally good, PromiseLab sounding honest and delivering a classy sound.

Hudson has a knack for writing radio-friendly yet edgy song and the band have made an intriguing first step on their journey.

Copyright © 2009 Anna Maria Stjärnell
- Luna Kafe


"When the Lights Go Down"
2009 TbN AUDiO



As the music of PromiseLab pours out of your speakers, what is most striking is the sheer quality of the songs. Avoiding the fashion and trends that so many bands rely on today, the Baltimore based quartet instead compose substantive and soulful, American rock that demands to be heard. On their debut album, "When the Lights Go Down", they have created a collection of songs that resonate with a depth and commitment that immediately sets them apart from the huge majority of their peers. They are not without influence; however, as elements of Petty, Stevie (both Vaughn & Wonder), Marvin, and Snow Patrol filter through their musical landscape.

PromiseLab was born out of a shared vision between Shayne Hudson (vocals, guitar) and Larry Rohleder (drums). As roommates in an East Baltimore row house, Shayne, a singer-songwriter and blues devotee, recorded songs in the basement of their building, aka “the lab,” while Larry, more rock oriented, as well as a sucker for a good pop song, plotted the formation of his own label, which would become TbN AUDiO. “The stuff coming out of the basement was just great, even in its primitive form. I thought I’d start a label, sign Shayne, and build a band around his material,” Larry recalls. But the two found that finding the right players was a bigger challenge than making the music. “We had more difficulty than anticipated in finding people who not only shared the vision, but were without circumstances (baggage/commitment issues),” said Shayne.

Undiscouraged, the duo decided to enter Wright Way Studios with Steve Wright wearing the producer/engineer hat, to lay down the basic tracks on their own. As fate would have it, a few of the best session musicians in the area were available. They hired a guitarist and bassist to complete the sonic portrait.

The sessions were a breakthrough. “Vocally I did a lot of things I never did before – different kinds of phrasing. I approached the songs very soulfully, which I think comes across on the album,” says Hudson. Rohleder adds, “We treated each song differently and used instruments that were like a dream come true for us – organs, mandolin, horns, lap steel, multiple snare drums, etc… We kept it very organic, but weren’t afraid to go beyond where either of us had been before.” The result: "When the Lights Go Down", an 11 track effort of storytelling that puts you in the shoes of an unattached twenty-something full of ambition, riding the emotional roller coaster of lust, love, pain, and acceptance.

What is most impressive about "When the Lights Go Down" is the strength and consistency of the songs even as they are stylistically diverse. There’s the acoustic, sober reminiscence of “1991” and the driving, overwhelming rock of “Burned Again.” It almost sounds like it could have been recorded by two bands, but it’s all PromiseLab, and it hearkens back to a time when bands were proud to reveal the full diversity of their music.

With their debut ready for release, the band is now complete with the addition of Jon Adams (bass, backing vocals) and Jeff Klinetob (lead guitar, backing vocals). “We couldn’t be happier”, says Rohleder, “Both guys can play and sing, but more importantly, are committed to making this thing happen.”

PromiseLab has set their sights on the next stage – building a fan base and letting audiences up and down the east coast know that what they’re hearing on "When the Lights Go Down" is for real. Shayne declares, “I know there’s an audience out there that craves this genuine sound. We’re coming out to provide the music that they’ve been wanting.” In 2009, with a stunning TbN AUDiO debut release, there is a new audience for PromiseLab waiting to be created – an audience that will respond to them like they were hearing authentic and soulful modern rock for the very first time, promise...