Nuclear Valdez - I am I
This is one album that has blown me away. I got it as a birthday present almost a year ago and soon discovered it to be very special. I am I is the debut of Nuclear Valdez and man, what a debut! Being a completely unknown band to me until recently I must assume that a lot of other people have never heard of them either, which is too sad. The band is based in Miami but the members have have different ethnic backgrounds. As far as I know Froilan Sosa (Vocals/Guitar) was born in the Dominican Republic, while Jorge Barcala (Lead Guitar), Juan Diaz (Bass) and Robert Slade LeMont (Drums) are all of Cuban descent. Their Latin background could be a factor in how these four guys have created something that is instantly recogniseable and very much their own style.

The music can be described as melodic rock played with real passion. The band is well played together and brings the songs a rythm and groove that I don't hear every day. Fro Sosa's vocals are truly unique, filled with soul and passion and able to convey a wide range of emotions. The band has managed to fill an album with a few good and many fantastic songs. Every song is catchy and will stick in your head like glue. I have walked around for the past half year singing along to every single one of them at some point. For the first 5 listens only Summer and Hope stood out, but suddenly the album opened up in a big way and every song was borderline wonderful. There is every possibility that you will fall completely in love with this band.

The music is uplifting, but reading the lyrics shows a different side of the band. Songs about loss and regret fill the album, and the lyrics are written in such a convincing way that they capture you and make you think and feel something. They are a contrasting element to the music and it is a genius combination that works magic in several songs.

The opener Summer is an uptempo rocker which will get you instantly hooked. There is an unbound sadness in Sosa's vocals as he sings about the Cuban revolution and how it affected the people. The melody line in the chorus is amazing and this is one song you will be humming for months. Hope is a song that just rips out your heart and hangs it out in the rain to dry. With highly relatable lyrics and an infectious chorus there is something timeless about this song. The guitar solo by Jorge Barcala is played with a lot of feeling and this is true for all his work on the album.

Trace the thunder is another catchy song with an uplifting guitar solo that makes me want to fly away. It is a good example of how the upbeat music completely contradicts the lyrics. Here is a song that has everything from joy to despair.

If I knew then was at first listen a typical sappy "lost love" ballad with a simple rythm, but digging deeper I found many layers and the song evolved into a favorite. One brilliant thing is how the guitar slowly intrudes in the verse sections until it finally lets go and starts bleeding in the last verse. It gives the whole song a sense of pent-up emotion and fits perfectly with the lyrics.

Life keeps running through my veins
But through my heart
There runs a midnight train
With just one soul

Unsung Hero is a dedication to Lenny Bruce, a mostly misunderstood and disrespected American Stand-up comedian who was far ahead of this time. He died of an overdose in 1966. The song shows real dedication and works very well. Strength has an intriguing guitar melody and the chorus is impossible not to sing along to. The slow bluesy part works very well too. Another moving song.

Eve and Apache are the songs I find "least good" on the album. Though Eve has a nice groove it doesn't hold enough variation to get it to the same level as the rest.

The rest of the album gets back on track and especially Run through the fields has a sweet melody which is shattered by the harsh reality of the lyrics, but no more words about the songs, they should really be experienced. Even today the music is fresh and has an incredible warmth to it that just screams passion. As you can read "I am I" comes highly recommended. There is more to this band than meets the ear.

Written by Steen
Thursday, November 4, 2004
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Steen: 8.5/10

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RevelationZ Comments

Comment by Juan Diaz (Anonymous) - Friday, December 10, 2004
This is one of the most accurate reviews I have read of this album. Thank you Steen, I admire your insight into the music and the lyrical contradictions to the melodies. This is probably because I wrote 90% of the lyrics and Fro wrote 90% of the music. We have not broken up, just busy on other projects and everday life. Thank honestly for the great review, it is appreciated!

Comment by Steen (Staff) - Saturday, December 11, 2004
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Thank you very much for the words! It was interesting to hear how you split the songwriting. I will keep my fingers crossed that one fine day, another Nuclear Valdez album will see the light of day. In the meantime, if you have any news about that or any other projects you guys are working on, don't hesitate to let me know and I'll keep people updated.

Posted by Steen (Staff)
Saturday, December 11, 2004

Comment by Chris H (Anonymous) - Saturday, June 3, 2006
Hi, great review and great cd, but I favour their second cd : DREAM ANOTHER DREAM from 1991, excellent tracks being I Think I fell and the title track itself! Check this cd aswell!!

Comment by gary bynkoski (Anonymous) - Friday, August 25, 2006
I own well over 1,000 albums and this is my absolute favorite. I feel like i discovered these guys and never tire of turning friends on to them!

Comment by James R (Anonymous) - Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I have a 4 track promotional CD with Summer in it's album version and an acoustic version. I had listned to this the other day and decided I really have to find out more about Nuclear Valdez. Summer is really a catchy, well crafted song. I need to go in search of I Am I and other music from this band.

Comment by Carolina (Anonymous) - Saturday, January 27, 2007
Great review. I love this band and hearing "Summer" always takes me back to those days in 1989-1990 when this song was getting heavy air play locally in Miami.

Comment by Jon / slipkid (Anonymous) - Monday, August 13, 2007
Just happened to stumble upon your review. IamI has been one of my favorite albums since I first heard it back when it was released. Your review sums it up perfectly as to why it is such a great work of "rock art". I can't believe this album never got the recognition it deserves. It rates up there with all time classics like The Who's WHO'S NEXT. More fans of rock music need to hear this album. Like 100 million more. P.S. Although I really dislike their followup album, DREAM ANOTHER DREAM, which veers too much from rock territory for my tastes, but their "comeback" album with a slightly different lineup called IN A MINUTE ALL COULD CHANGE, from 2001, is pretty good. In my book IamI gets a solid "10", D.A.D. gets a 2, but I.A.M.A.C.C. bounces back with a 7.

Comment by Steen (Staff) - Tuesday, August 14, 2007
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Thanks! Always good to hear from others who have discovered this sparkling gem. "I a minute all could change" comes highly recommended as well. A unique band for sure.

Posted by Steen (Staff)
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Comment by doug (Anonymous) - Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Yes.. I need to go track this down and buy it for a 3rd time. i wore out the cassette, then the cd, and it's been years now since i heard these songs, but a few still stick in my head. always loved the melodies and guitar work on Eve and Hope, to name 2 that are great memories, although the entire set is solid quality.

Luckily I was old enough to catch NV at the Rockit club in Tampa and I hope to read that these excellent songwriters will tour again (ahem, play in L.A. where I am now!)

a masterpiece indeed, and Fro's excellent vocal quality sounds natural and honest in an often contrived rock genre! love the influence that comes through all the instrumentation...

Comment by shanecohn (Member) - Friday, March 5, 2010
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Great album. I saw these guys at The Rocket Club in Tampa, FL in 1990.
Great live band as well!

Posted by shanecohn
Friday, March 5, 2010

Comment by Rokasocki (Member) - Sunday, October 10, 2010
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I first heard Apache on the radio when I was an exchange student in Switzerland in1989-90. It's the one song I remember from that time that really rocked my world! I won a copy of "I am I" on the radio in college and I wore it out. Somehow it's crept back into
my head and I just downloaded it from iTunes.

I really appreciate the honest review and recommend it to anyone interested in exploring good music!

Posted by Rokasocki
Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review by Steen

Released by
Epic - 1989

01. Summer
02. Hope
03. Trace the Thunder
04. If I Knew Then
05. Unsung Hero
06. Strength
07. Eve
08. Apache
09. Run Through The Fields
10. Where Do We Go From Here
11. Rising sun

Melodic Rock

Related links
Visit the band page

Nuclear Valdez - Official Website

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In a Minute all Could Change - (Michael)

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