Who knew that Freddie Mercury 2K would be from Pittsburgh?
The comparisons to Mercury are bordering sacrilegious, but after listening to Freddie Nelson’s debut rock album Shake The Cage, I can honestly say the comparisons are legitimate.
Nelson is one of those incredibly talented musicians that leaves you asking, ‘how in the world is this guy not famous yet?’
A+ guitar skills? Check.
Writes his own songs? Check.
Produces his own tracks? Check.
Four octave vocal range? Check.
Rocker bangs with cross around the neck? Check.
Nelson played his first professional show at age 11. After starting a band in 2001, he later collaborated with Paul Gilbert of Mr. Big in 2010. And during all that time, the Freddie Mercury/Queen comparisons continued to build. As a huge Queen fan, I was skeptical at first myself. However, just one listen to the first track and holy hell, it’s like Freddie Mercury is back from the dead.
The album is full of super catchy guitar riffs and fantastic melodies equipped for mainstream rock, but they also still have enough edge and creativity to appeal to rock n’ roll purists.
The first single on the record is “Hey Doll,” a contemporary Queen-like track that really showcases Nelson’s songwriting creativity and guitar chops.
“Turn You On” has an AC/DC feel that brings hope there could be a true rock comeback on the scene’s horizon. “My Girl” has simple lyrics that still serve a reminder that great rock can be fun yet transcendent at the same time. My favorite track on the album is possibly “Light,” a blues-inspired rock song with nursery-rhyme melodic lyrics and unpredictable bars that has Queen written all over it.
It’s these types of songs that separate Nelson from the pack. There’s really not much to dislike. Shake The Cage is creative and new yet a blast from the past; it’s top-notch rock n’ roll guitar with a dash of pop, a sprinkle of punk and a dollop of blues; there’s no strict formula to the songs; and there’s more hooks than a world class bass fishing tournament.
“The record is called Shake The Cage, because I feel that a lot of music has become one dimensional with tools such as pitch correction and formulated songwriting,” said Nelson. “There is no substitute for hard work and honing your craft, and it’s time to challenge mediocrity.”
“I let my instincts guide me,” Nelson explains, “and this album is the result of living in the moment.”
And I hope whatever that moment is, Nelson continues to live it.
Shake The Cage comes out July 7. It’s simply a must listen to any fans of not just Queen, but Muse, My Chemical Romance, The Killers or The Beatles.
Josh Helmuth is an editor for Crave and a longtime music lover whose first record was Eric Clapton. However, his first concert? That choice he will take to the grave.
Photo Credit: Tara Bennett and Frank Vilsack