With an extensive and rewarding discography that includes late 1990s efforts with Psychic Rain as well as Beyond 7’s 2004 debut “Here and Now,” the surefire duo of lead singer-guitarist Greg Stoddard and lead guitarist Brian Stewart have raised the bar again with the recently-released “Smoke.”
Armed with a dozen original songs and a strong rhythm section, Beyond 7’s “Smoke” boasts a winning combination of uptempo modern rock (“Drowning,” “Light of Day”) and strong ballads (“When You’re Gone,” “Last Man in the World”).
And, admits Stoddard, there is a kind of mathematical blueprint for the rock quartet’s winning formula.
“The songs we reject are great, but they are not quite good enough,” singer-guitarist Greg Stoddard said of the power of sonic subtraction. I interviewed him last spring in connection with the release of Beyond 7's latest studio disc. “We don’t want to cheat anybody. We want these songs to be a part of you.”
Since founding Psychic Rain a decade ago (he launched Beyond 7 with much-admired lead guitarist Brian Stewart in 2001), Stoddard has been writing and recording some of the most memorable and accessible modern rock in earshot, winning legions of fans while sharing the bill with groups such as the Gin Blossoms, Smithereens, Fixx, dada and Dramarama; in fact, Beyond 7 celebrated the release of the band’s full-length sophomore release “Smoke” when it opened for Dramarama at House of Blues in Anaheim in May.
In addition to Stoddard and Stewart, the Buena Park rock troupe features a strong one-two punch in the rhythm department courtesy of drummer Raul Hinojosa Jr. and bassist Moses Guerrero.
“We’re fortunate in all the shows we get; we couldn’t ask for anything else,” Stoddard said.
Although U2, Queen, Oasis, Cheap Trick and the Smiths might not seem to have much in common, each came to the forefront with the talents of a powerful singer and distinctive guitar player. Stoddard and Stewart bring that kind of magic chemistry to Beyond 7.
“We want to write and record great albums,” said Stoddard, noting while he continues to write many songs on his own, “Smoke” features five songs that he wrote with Stewart. “We take great pride in that.”
“Smoke” is not a concept album, yet it has that feel. Indeed, the album kicks off with the fiery “Light of Day,” which was the first song Stoddard wrote for the album.
“Since 9/11, not just myself but everybody kind of woke up; they use that as the beginning of a new era,” said Stoddard, explaining he has found many people often to refer to events having nothing to do with the War on Terror as either “pre” or “post” 9/11.
In “Light of Day,” Stoddard reflects on how he senses life has changed since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, when he opens the song: “I can’t find my sunshine, rewind/I close my eyes, realize things aren’t quite right/morning’s turned to night.”
And “Smoke” ends its dozen-song run with the title cut, a poignant look at how quickly people can feel defeated by life’s relatively short run and limited chances to get it all right.
“This (the new album) is more about finding yourself and finding yourself in the world. ‘Smoke’ says everything we have is a temporary possession…our life is just like smoke,” Stoddard said. “It’s best to enjoy it while you have it and appreciate what you have.”
Beyond 7 will perform acoustic versions of the band's songs to Gordon James Grill & Bar, 110 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, 9 p.m.-midnight on Saturdays, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28.
Information: 949- 498-9100