In 1996, the somewhat unbelievable happened, the kind of thing that only happens in movies. The fact that a movie was actually made about this event only gives credence to my argument, but it did indeed happen. A singer in a tribute cover band was offered the actual lead singer’s position in the band to which he was paying tribute. Many people now know about Tim `Ripper’ Owens and how he went from the tribute band British Steel to actually fronting Judas Priest after Rob Halford’s departure. The movie that was loosely based on these events was called Rock Star, and starred Mark Wahlberg as the Owens-type up-and-comer. A lot of stories you’ll read about Amy Stolzenbach will feature this kind of information. Amy was Angus Young in one of the, if not the, pioneering all-female metal tribute acts, the AC/DC cover band, Hell’s Belles. But that wouldn’t really do justice to Stolzenbach’s wide array of talents.
Nearly everyday, I am amazed at the amount of people in this world who not only have full-time jobs, but devote nearly as much time, if not more, to their crafts, passions and art. One look at Amy Stolzenbach’s long résumé and you’ll catch a glimpse of her intense drive to create a life filled with music, and not just someone else’s. From the Midwest to music school in Los Angeles, then up to Seattle, Stolzenbach has been in her share of bands. It wasn’t until Hell’s Belles, naturally, that she began to get any kind of significant attention, thus remaining with the Belles for three years. Amy gained almost as much attention by being nearly selected to replace Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland. More bands and collaborations would follow, including one with Carrie Akre, but after ten plus years in the business of being someone else’s guitar player, Amy Stolzenbach was ready to venture out on her own.
On and On is the name of Stolzenbach’s debut solo album, a collection of well-written, delicately sung and gorgeously executed melodic songs that declare her independence once and for all. There may not be any shades of Angus Young here, but there are more than enough flashes of guitar playing genius. One can tell from listening to On and On, particularly in songs like “Draw the Line” and “We All Fall Down,” that besides the gods of metal, Amy also worships at the altars of the Edge and Jonny Greenwood while adding her own strong voice, like a combination of Aimee Mann and Melissa Auf der Maur. “Walk on Water” takes her game up to a whole other level, smart and subtle, but equally powerful, besides being one of those tracks that will linger in the recesses of your brain for weeks on end.
With a debut this strong, I’m surprised that it took ten years or more for Stolzenbach to be discovered outside of the supporting roles she’s held. Of course, I don’t think anyone would expect this kind of album from someone wearing schoolboy short pants and doing the Chuck Berry leg kick to “You Shook Me All Night Long.” We may not have been expecting it, but we’ll definitely take it. With songs that will definitely remind some of a nice mix of Radiohead’s more dramatic acoustic moments (“Exit Music for a Film,” “No Surprises”) and bits of the new school of singer / songwriters including Brandi Carlile and Anna Nalick, one hopes that Stolzenbach’s career will continue in the direction of the title of her debut album, On and On.
Radiohead- OK Computer
Anna Nalick- Wreck of the Day
Brandi Carlile- Brandi Carlile