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State College Music Spotlight: Johnny Action Figure

State College Music Spotlight is a new feature at Onward State where we find local artists in the State College area and share them with the community.

These guys have something special.

Johnny Action Figure is a quartet based in Philadelphia, PA. The band is made up of guitarists/vocalists Brendan Fullam and Chris Sheehan (the latter of which is a Penn State alum from 07!), bassist/vocalist CF Fullam, and drummer Brad Rittle. On their latest release, Good Eye, Johnny Action Figure shows a future for pop rock as it could be. You’ll find no auto-tune gimmicks or flashy egos here, just four guys who have great ears for melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and how they can all go together.

Good Eye is a very confident, sincere album, where everything seems to be done for the purposes of producing a solid sound. For instance, the second track on the album, “Young Rider“, incorporates 3-part harmonies, doo-wop backing vocals, horns, transitions from 4/4 to 3/4, a walking bassline, and two guitar solos in just over three and a half minutes – yet none of it comes off as gimmicky, show-offy, or unnecessary. It’s clear that these four chaps have excellent technical prowess on their respective instruments, but they show enough restraint to not come off as obnoxious.

Above all, though, Johnny Action Figure’s sound is unique. Their press release for this album states that they’ve been compared to Elvis Costello, Steely Dan, The Beach Boys, The Shins, My Morning Jacket, and Elliott Smith, among others. These influences are definitely present, but it’s tough to classify their sound as anything but their own. And that’s definitely something rare in popular music these days.

Johnny Action Figure would be a great band to have play in State College. They have some Penn State alum, so I’m sure they would be up for it. Get on it, SPA/SOMA/Movin’ On/Wallypalloza!

I highly recommend Good Eye to anyone who wants some good music. You can listen to some more tracks on their MySpace and, if you like what you hear, buy the whole album on iTunes or CD Baby.

If you are a musician in the State College area or a recent Penn State grad and would like to be considered for being featured in the next State College Music Spotlight, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “State College Music Spotlight”, some information about yourself/your group, and a link to a sample of your music.

About the Author

Evan Kalikow

Evan Kalikow co-founded Onward State in November 2008 with Davis Shaver and Eli Glazier. Having previously served as a Writer, Editor, Standards Editor, and Community Manager, Evan is now a proud alumnus of both Onward State and Penn State. He was also named "Person of the Year" by Time Magazine in 2006.


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