Shugaazer Shugaazer Atenzia Records
Produced By: Paul Laine

Running Time: 44.12

Release Date: September

Released: EU

Musical Style: Modern Melodic Rock / Pop

Links: Atenzia
Songs: 91%
Sound: 96%
Shugaazer's debut album is aptly titled, as it represents a shift in direction for frontman Paul Laine.
Laine has recorded just the one official solo album - with a second demos collection also available plus four albums spread over a number of years now with Danger Danger.
He is constantly writing and recording and in recent times spent a lot of time working on a new outlet for his music. Shugaazer is that outlet a four piece based out of Laine's native Vancouver. This is a band that sees Laine shift his focus to a more modern direction and at the same time changing to a more pop orientated sound.
The songs of Shift are quite diverse and should find wide appeal. In some instances the tracks lean towards alternative pop - which is where a new audience could be found, while at other times the style isn't too far removed from that which he brought to Danger Danger especially on their last album Return Of The Great Gildersleeves.
Above everything else, the songs on Shift are superbly crafted, intricately laced with melody and cleverly updated into a modern direction, without too much alienation of his more traditional roots.
The album is dominated by vocal melodies and song hooks rather than an obvious focus on choruses. A few songs do have that killer chorus, but the majority rely on changes in the song structure, with bridges, cleaver intros and production effects in play.
Track By Track:
Opening track Kozmonaut sends a clear message this is a new direction and sound for Paul Laine and band. But the voice is unmistakable and the style and class is still in tact. Surrounded by production effects and a modern pop rock base, the soft rocker kicks into high gear come chorus time into a more familiar style for Laine fans. Thankfully the chorus has a monster hook and a refreshing vibe.
When You Gonna Break My Heart is an interesting track to have in the number 2 spot. The song is a mid-tempo pop ballad. A strong guitar lead through the chorus lifts the song up a notch. The verse contains some strong vocal melodies and the chorus features a pleasant hook, but I'm still not sure I like this track in the position it's in maybe just a little laid back for track two.
Song 4 Lennon is the album's first absolute classic. I love this track. It's very slow to start, with a long building intro, but the vocal hooks come into play almost straight away and the musical style is very close to the last Danger Danger album, albeit with a lot of modern production effects. The song itself is a fairly laid back rock ballad, but the chorus cranks the song up at least 2 notches.
Stepped Into My Universe is a mid to uptempo feel good pop rocker, with a more prominent guitar riff and another strong pop hook. One of the album's more modern tracks, but one with a simple, but instantly infective chorus that sucks you in first listen.
Could the next track - Something Worth Waiting For be song of the year 2003? It's certainly in the running and remains one of the best tracks I have ever heard Paul Laine sing.
The song has a moody pop intro, which leads us through a slow tempo chorus that seems to build in intensity and come chorus time explodes into a mega ballad.
I love the haunting quality and strength in Laine's vocals, which really soar on this track and are backed by a strong guitar riff. Just awesome.
Beautiful follows on perfectly it's the album's heaviest track and features a sound very close to that of Danger Danger. The production is again filled with tweaks and effects, but the guitar and strong lead vocal drive this track. Another killer chorus is supported by some of the best lyrics of the year. All about how the famous and beautiful people live, the song is filled with biting and socially satirical messages. Another classic!
Here Without You is far more laid back, moving back into softer territory for this modern pop track. It's another one of the more alternative tracks, but still features another strong chorus.
California is another enjoyable track and another album highlight. Featuring a more guitar driven approach, the song is still only mid-tempo, but is another great outlet for Laine's vocal talents.
Get The Hell Outta My House isn't one of my preferred tracks. This one is another modern/alternative pop track with a little time needed before the melodies become more familiar and likeable.
Enough however, ends the album on a major high note. Building from a fade-in intro to a simple rock verse, the intensity again builds before the guitar kicks in and a big vocal hook that introduces the chorus and another layer of rocking guitar.
This is another track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Danger Danger album and ends the album on a rocking note.
The Bottom Line
Of all the things apparent on Shugaazer's debut, the production needs to be singled out for special credit. The album sounds fabulous thanks to some special care and effort in mixing all the ingredients together. The modern touches and effects added to the layers of vocal harmonies and the dual acoustic and electric guitar sound of some tracks all works wonderfully together.
This album isn't going to be a winner with all current and past fans of Danger Danger. Dedicated Paul Laine fans will find it far easier to get used to, and elsewhere, a new range of fans might find themselves falling for the charm of this great vocalist.
Traditionalists might find it a bit too modern, but this is 2003 and this is a perfect record for today.
It certainly features a more updated and modern rock approach, but the songs themselves are all built around the all important melody, so I expect many to really enjoy this album.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Danger Danger - Four The Hard Way
Danger Danger - Return Of The Great Gildersleeves
Danger Danger - Cockroach

Line Up
Paul Laine: Vocals, Guitar
Chris Matheson: Guitar
Pat Steward (now Roland Churchill): Drums
Shane Demers: Bass

Essential for fans of:
Paul Laine
Danger Danger - Gildersleeves
Modern Rock
Track Listing
When You Gonna Break My Heart
Song 4 Lennon*
Stepped Into My Universe
Something Worth Waiting For*
Here Without You
Get The Hell Outta My House
--*Best Tracks

18/02/05: Kenneth M -
Rating: 95
As one Canadian to another Paul, Excellent effort man!! This album rocks when it needs to and flows throughout, there are some truly classic songs on display here "Kozmonaut", "Stepped Into My Universe" and "Beautiful" should all be radio hits with heavy, heavy rotation...but instead we get nothing but what I call "polyester" crap for the masses. I hope to be hearing much more from you and this band in the near future, I will miss you greatly in Danger Danger as I felt your vocal style suited that band much more effectively than Ted's (not that he's a disaster or anything). You gave them the raw power they needed to lift them above a more "candy floss" sound that preceeded your arrival. "Gildersleeves" is a rock n' roll essential!!! Anyway, all the best with this and all future endeavours...

27/05/04: Chewsmoka -
Rating: 90
After hearing this CD,I can see why Paul left D2. Moving much more into the modern rock field, not everything works and sometimes his voice cracks, but a DAMN fine piece of work! Only complaint is they try a little too hard and end up falling flat in many places, but recover wonderfully. Gets old after a few listens, but it sure sounds good coming back to it a few months later

16/11/03: Doug -
Rating: 99
I have given this cd time to grow on me before giving it a review.I have been a Paul Laine supporter since his first album which still has not aged since its release. Shift fits into this category as well it to is a absolute classic - every track is strong and the whole cd flows in harmony from start to finish. For the first album released under the name Shugaazer one can only look forward to the next offering. Buy this cd you will not be dissapointed - well worth the money.

25/10/03: Don -
Rating: 90
I have been a Paul Laine fan since D2s Cockroach/Dawn era and then subsequently hearing the Stick it in Your Ear CD which I think is an absolute masterpiece. I also think today's music lacks musical and definitely vocal talent, and most of the "vocalists" in today's modern rock scene sound like whiny, droning, monotone idiots with no talent whatsoever.
Well, Shugaazer answers the question: "What if you put someone with superior vocal dexterity on the mic in a nu-breed sounding modern rock band and added intelligent songwriting?"
Definitely a new twist for Paul but a refreshing relief as well. I love every song except for Get the Hell Out of My House, I think it's way beneath the rest of the record..and I think When You Gonna Break My Heart and especially Stepped Into My Universe are absolutely brilliant. I would love to hear more refreshing uptempo songs in the vein of Universe in the future from these guys...that's my only other criticism...bring the tempo up a few notches. Otherwise, this record is perfect.
Can't wait for the second one.
Oh, and Paul...I sincerely hope there is another D2 record as well because that style of music allows you to fully showcase your awesome vocal range. Captain Bring Me Down was an absolutely monster song.

17/10/03: Ben Webster -
Rating: 90
This album is a sterling example of slick modern rock/pop.I'm a big fan of Mr.Laine's talents and this record doesn't disappoint with great melodies,strong hooks and spacious production.Worth buying for the last song, "Enough" and "Something worth waiting for" Superb stuff indeed.

05/10/03: Manfred -
Rating: 86
Paul Laine's vocals always shine on disc......they actually did on the fantastic songs written by Bruno Ravel and Steve West. On 'Four the hard way 'you could hear some of Paul's new ideas, midtempo songs, Beatlesque refrains and melodies and songs with an evident structure, easy to follow, not too bombastic and not too much of the standard rock issues.
On Shugaazer, Paul shines in all his glory again: great songs, good playing and a lot of surprises in the production and the mixing of 'Shift '.
The songs have that nu breed-feeling, fresh , a lot of guitars screaming in melody, mid tempos, chorusses that have some of the Beatles in them, great lead vocals, crunchy sounds and a huge production. Some songs have a lot to offer...Beautiful, Kozmonaut, Something worth waiting for and Enough.
I like the record very much, it needs an open mind to listen to, beacause it's very different from the Danger Danger- epics, I miss their speed up tempos and the rocky feelings a little, but Paul Laine has given his fans and the fans of new-modern-rock something worth waiting for..........
Great record !

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