I had never heard of N.E.D. prior to listening to their forthcoming release Six Degrees and thought it best to keep it that way until completing my task. Let me be honest, after I had given the album the once-through, I was prepared to write a very different review than the one you will get here. The reason for this is because I did a little research into this band and…um…well I felt guilty.  And here is the reason. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

N.E.D. is comprised of six practicing gynecologic oncologists who spend their days caring for women — in the operating room, clinic , your-pharmacies.com , and research lab, striving for better ways to treat cancers unique to women.  They formed a band to raise awareness and money for the fight against these cancers.

So, you see, I had to cut them some slack. I had to cut the a lot of slack. If this band was anything other than what it is I would have no problem being harsh and super critical. However, I find myself a little fascinated by this endeavor called N.E.D. and see no need to treat these people like I would had they been far less noble in their cause. N.E.D. stands for no evidence of disease, which is what every cancer patient wants their doctor to tell them after treatment. Man I really have to be nice to this band.

The songs on Six Degrees, (get it? Six medical degrees) are pleasant and innocuous, sprinkled with some decent guitar licks and sometimes-interesting harmonies. They label themselves as alternative rock but this is as adult contemporary as it gets. Not much edge here at all.

There are two vocalists in the band, John Boggess and Joanie Hope but if it were up to me I would have Joanie Hope be the only vocalist in the band.  Her voice works better with the pervading middle-of-the-road sound of the band and at its best moments adopts a  Natalie Merchant tone, which serves the music well.  The fifth track, Let The Singing Begin is one of the highlights on the album. It’s a lovely and soulful tune where all the musician’s strengths coalesce nicely. Intoxication works for the same reasons but provides a little more attitude both lyrically and musically.

One gets the sense that N.E.D. has in its ranks some very accomplished musicians but what you don’t get is the sense of any sort of identity. The sound suffers from being a little too generic and this lack of identity is only exacerbated by alternating vocalists and their seemingly different directions in substance. But as I said, this record is serving a greater cause than simply N.E.D. becoming rock stars. I wish this band the very best and I hope people find it in their hearts to at the very least, check them out and sample the music.

You may love it. You may not. But your karma will be well served.

Release date June 21

Spark Media Group out of Washington DC is producing a feature-length documentary of the band titled “Dancing with N.E.D.” The film charts the dual careers of the musicians/surgeons, from operating rooms to music halls. The viewer will get an intimate look at the life-affirming work of these band mates as they grapple with the realities of treating life-altering gynecological cancers. The documentary is scheduled to be completed in November, 2011 and shown on the national film circuit during 2012.