Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ cocksure self-titled album finally brought them fame

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Grace Potter and the Nocturnals started as a regional, New England-based act and, through relentless touring and just an occasional album, steadily built a following. Finally signed to a big label, frontwoman Potter and her cohorts were ready to break out — like Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, circa 1975 — with their second, self-titled release for Hollywood Records.

Their indie debut, 2004’s Original Soul, had been about about as meek as a Norah Jones record. This Is Somewhere, the 2007 follow up for Hollywood Records, heralded a moment in which they positioned themselves as a down-the-line rock band. Then came Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Released on June 8, 2010, it strutted its rock with more of a cocksure attitude.

The guitars were thicker, but it all really started with Grace Potter herself: she squealed, screamed, moaned and sighed her way through songs. The thing is, she’s got the chops to pull it off, and the normally good vocals of Potter were outright liberated on this release. Behind her, the Nocturnals boasted a new bass player (Catherine Popper) and rhythm guitarist (Benny Turco) to join drummer Matt Burr on drums and Scott Tournett on lead guitar. It was a band dressed to kill.

The leadoff track “Paris (Ooh La La)” was the kind of gut puncher that Joan Jett would have loved to have thought of first, so much so that the rest of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals doesn’t measure up. Several songs do stand up fine on their own, like “Medicine,” “That Phone” and the reggae-inflected “Goodbye Kiss.” There’s still room left for ballads but, this time, they’re somewhat flaccid.

As a whole though, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals had enough punch to widen their audience, scoring a career-best No. 19 debut on the Billboard charts. The Lion the Beast the Beat, released in 2012, delivered the band another Top 20 hit. They were on their way.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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