Personnel: Mike V , Raymond Mantovani (vocals, guitar); Scott Zillitto (vocals, saxophone); Catherine Herrick (vocals); Ryan Gross (guitar, keyboards); Will Hoffman (trumpet); Ben Tanner (keyboards); Jamie Zillitto (bass guitar, drum machine); Mitch Cady (drums, percussion); Jason Burrus (drums).
Recording information: Killing Horse Studios, Passaic, New Jersey; The Nutthouse, Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
The Everymen sounded like a big, pumped-up show band on 2014's Givin' Up on Free Jazz, with horns, keyboards, and backing vocalists filling up the sound of a Jersey-centric rock & roll band. Things have changed a bit on the group's follow-up, 2016's These Mad Dogs Need Heroes. The band has slimmed down from a nine-player ensemble to a mere five pieces, with longtime members Mike V (guitar and vocals) and Catherine Herrick (vocals) joined by Scott Zillitto on sax and vocals, Jamie Zillitto on bass, and Ryan Gross on guitars and keyboards. While guest musicians fill in the spaces left by the new, smaller band, the Everymen still sound like a more modest and intimate group on These Mad Dogs Need Heroes. The opening track, "Co-Dependent's Day," is full of the swagger and flash of the band's best-known work, but much of this album finds the Everymen exploring new territory. Overall, there are fewer horns here, with guitars and keyboards taking center stage most of the time, and the songs are often quieter and simpler. "Oh Sweet Lucia," "My Pretty Green-Eyed Carolina Girl," and the title track are (relatively) low-key numbers where the singers bare their souls to the ones they love. And even when the Everymen rev back up to full power on "Christglider" and "Bridge and Tunnel of Love," the tone is more personal and contemplative, despite the bluster of the performances. And "I Woke Up" is a surprisingly sweet and perceptive sketch of a happy couple's life that trades the group's oversized attack for something simpler, and succeeds beautifully. If the Everymen are a less hard-hitting band on These Mad Dogs Need Heroes, they sound increasingly mature and ambitious, and this music suggests they're evolving into something more rewarding than they were. ~ Mark Deming