I value hard work more than anything else when it comes to forging a career, especially in the arts, however sometimes hard work ends up driving out any spontaneity to the work involved. And when an artist’s ego gets involved well then most likely everything is going to go to shit sooner or later. It’s good to have confidence in what you do, it’s important. It keeps you from getting so down about what your doing isn’t good or good enough that your tempted to quit. On the other side of the coin though are those artists who simply make music for the hell of it and see how it turns out. The artists in question here is the Toronto based conglomerate The Diamond Group.
There is no real history to speak of as to the formation of the The Diamond Group besides that they are a studio band. Front man Mike Diamond (no not the Beastie Boy) heads up the group as the lyricist and lead vocalist. Behind him are a mixture of eight other musicians who helped collaborate on The Diamond Group’s first record Peaks and Valleys. The title is supposed to mirror the albums flow with the first few songs representing the “peaks” or high points of life and the latter half representing the “valleys” which signify the lower points of life.
The peaks start with the strangely pretty melodies of “It’s Alright” where swirls of organ play off a simple acoustic guitar riff. A series of silly lyrics, all terrible end rhymes seems somewhat hokey on purpose, in the vein of Ween or They Might Be Giants. This silliness continues on the La Cucaracha-like “Loretta.” The acoustic pop rocker “Cruisin’ Along” comes as a pleasant surprise out of nowhere. Diamond’s vocals aren’t silly but rather flat line observations and the added backing female vocals make for a nice touch.
“Punks With Guns” sounds like a bad improv comedy troupe made it up on the spot as does its funk addled predecessor “Arrested for Domestic.” By the time the final track, the acoustic rap-rock ballad “Wednesday Evening” comes along one is simply left scratching their head trying to make sense of what exactly is going on here.
In the end Peaks and Valleys seems like an album that was made for shits and giggles; like everybody throw a few bucks in the hat and let’s buy beers and some studio time and make a record. The music and production on Peaks and Valleys is really quite good, in fact it’s better than quite good, and Diamond’s vocals are solid even when his lyrics are not. If The Diamond Group wanted to make a great record they could do so very easily. But Peaks and Valleys unfortunately has too few peaks.
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