The Mayfield Four
In terms of actual 1999 pop smashes, the Mayfield Four have the formula down pat: Lonely melodies, melodic agonizing vocals, that approach screaming much in the vein of Chris Cornell, and plenty of hooks. "Suckerpunch," which should be their big hit (it's my favorite off the album), puts everything together and is doggone reminiscent of what the genuine "alternative" bands were trying to do back when "college radio" was synonymous with "good music." It's a powerful, driving tune about "hurt." So is "12/31" that has some amazing, musclebound vocalizations in between the peddle steel guitar and mandolin. I would think "Fallout" has potential for another "hit" as it's got the catchy sound so popular with the downward-looking youth of the moment, which takes nothing away from its pounding drums and crescendo of psychedelic waa-waa. Impressive! I guess if you add some adrenaline to Pearl Jam you're going to get me to like it.
And that's not to take anything away from the Mayfield Four at all. While their fan club address is in Seattle, I've been assured that they hail from at least two hours away... Their music is heavy to a good degree, but is loaded with real melody where piercing vocals meet the guitars in just the right places.
On top of that, they cover Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," and, this is a secret, I've heard them cover "Highway to Hell" and they sounded like they all used to be in AC/DC cover bands. Watch this band...
--David Lee Beowulf