Adelitas Way ~ Home School Valedictorian
Release Date: June 7, 2011
It’s been a long time coming for the road dogs of Adelita’s Way, but this summer they will finally release their sophomore effort, Home School Valedictorian. This long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s self-titled debut will certainly not disappoint, and is sure to expand their fan base exponentially.
Back are front man and principal songwriter, Rick DeJesus, drummer Tre Stafford, guitarist Keith Wallen and bassist Derek Johnston, Gone from the band’s debut line-up is lead guitarist Chris Iorio. Tour fill-in Creighton Bibb is also not along for the ride this time. The band’s newest additon is lead guitarist Robert Zakaryan.
Home School Valedictorian offers up a great mix of hard rockers with a bit of a pop flair. This CD displays the band’s growth musically, and shows Rick DeJesus’s maturation as a songwriter. From the opening of “The Collapse” to the end of “Hurt”, there’s not a bad track on this record. While there are no anthemic-type tracks like 2009’s “Invincible”, the eleven songs on Home School Valedictorian will not leave you wanting for anything, other than more music from this excellent young band. This is definitely one of my top releases for 2011.
The album starts out with the aforementioned rocker, “The Collapse”. Something about the feel of this track tells me it will translate to the stage quite nicely, and may even make a great show opener when the band hopefully gets some headlining dates. For now they’re slated to make a run opening for Seether the week the album is released.
By now, everyone has probably heard “Sick” on the radio. A great lead-off single, and sure to be one of the top Active Rock chart climbers this year.
“Alive” is one of those songs that definitely needs to be a single. Musically, it’s an excellent song that both the pop fans and the rockers can appreciate. Lyrically, it could easily be “Last Stand, Part II”, after the guy and girl get back together. It makes perfect sense to put this one out to radio, and it’s probably my favorite song on the album.
“Criticize” is a great song about those friends, relatives, and other associates we all seem to have who put down everything we do…They’re perfect, we suck, and nothing we could ever do will be good enough. It’s basically a middle finger to the types of people we all have, but don’t want or need, in our lives. The tag line “Someone as perfect as you, it’s hard to criticize”, sums it up. Sarcasm in music, always a good thing.
That theme seems to continue, though directed more at a lover, with the following track, “Good Enough”. It’s about one of those girls who, for whatever reason, has decided that your best is no longer good enough, and you just can’t do anything right. Another one that I could see having great cross-over appeal to both the pop and rock audiences.
“Cage The Beast” is, from my perspective, the heaviest track on the record…Very tight; great riffs, great vocals. I could almost see this one having been written for Godsmack. It definitely has that feel to it.
“I Can Tell” is one of those songs about trying to save a love that, for whatever reason, has slipped away and fallen apart. So, it begs the question, considering its contrast to a song like “Alive”, is he in love, isn’t he? Is it working out, or is it going down the toilet? We may never know. Regardless, it’s a great song with lush musical arrangement, and great vocals.
“Somebody Wishes They Were You” is a great reminder that no matter how much you feel like your life sucks, it could always be worse…No matter what’s going on, there’s always someone out there who’d rather walk a mile in your shoes than their own.
“Move” is a great rocker… High-energy, good riffs. Not quite sure what it’s supposed to be about, but sometimes, the message isn’t as important as a song that’ll make you want to tap your toes and slam your fists on the dashboard as you cruise down the freeway.
“I Wanna Be” is the closest, in my opinion, that we come to an anthemic rocker on this record. According to Rick he co-penned this track with Theory of A Deadman vocalist Tyler Connolly after a night of clubbing in Los Angeles. It’s about what we all want… To be rich, lucky, living the good life. Great beat; this song will be responsible for a lot of guys slamming down the accellerator and getting speeding tickets this summer. Hey, some songs just raise the adrenaline and make you want to go as fast as you can.
“Hurt” is the final track on the album. A true-to-form power ballad about love lost, and about the ways we cope with it. At first, I thought it was a bit odd to go power ballad to end the album, but once you’ve listened to this CD, I believe you’ll agree with me that the way they did it works, and that they’ve sequenced this record perfectly.
The production on this album is a bit more polished and not quite as raw. The band worked with Dave Bassett (Shinedown) and Tadpole (Disturbed, Finger Eleven), and have created an excellent CD from start to finish.
I admit I wondered how this would turn out since the band is now on their third lead guitarist. However, Robert Zakaryan has stepped right in and rocks just as hard as Chris or Creighton did. There will be no slowing these guys down.