Articles for the Month of June 2016

You can choose your friends but not your family. Or can you?

Make way for 1592 from Detroit, MI!  Hot off the presses is their latest album ‘Family of Choice’ which is their 3rd full length since the band’s inception.  Let’s listen to see what these 5 gents can do…

 

  1. “Different Track (Spit On It)”- If Quentin Tarantino did movie set on a train, this would be on its soundtrack. Dark and edgy instrumentation overlaid with ominous vocals, creates a great opening tune.   Grade: B+

 

  1. “Everything Changes”- Sure the lyrics are repetitious, but I am really diggin’ this track. I picture a man who is down on his luck, walking through the dark rainy alleys of Detroit (next video idea).  Awesome! Grade: A

 

  1. “Lonely Road”- With reggae or traditional ska at its core, Jeremy Abbey’s saxophone work gives it a 70’s soft rock kind of feel. This is certainly not a criticism; I really enjoy a lot of songs out of that era.  Nice job guys.  Grade: A

 

  1. “I Can’t Remember”- This one is a little more upbeat than the previous songs and will put a little pep in your step. There is also more of a rock element as well, with excellent use of guitar.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Fight For You”-A slower groove featuring more of a fuller horn section as well the keys sounding more like a piano rather than an organ. Solid track.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Hooligans”- This instrumental packs more punches than a round in the Octagon. One of the best I’ve heard. PERIOD.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Move Your Feet”-“Move Your Feet” starts things off with a blues inspired guitar riff, quickly followed by a horns sounding very similar to “That’s It” off of the ‘This One’s For You All’ album. The only skankin’ song thus far, so take advantage.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Lost”- This song will strike a chord with listeners, because we have all feel lost from time to time. This one too has a bit of a 70’s feel to it, spliced with 1592’s unique style. Grade: A-

 

  1. “Family of Choice”- 1592 slows it down a bit and uses the same group vocal style as “Different Track (Spit On It).” The subtle use of organ and slight use of dub effect give this an eerie feel.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “The Farm”- What can I say, 1592 deals up another fantastic instrumental featuring saxophone and organ parts that are second to none.  Let’s not forget the killer guitar solo.  Way to bring it home!  Grade: A

 

Much like the town they call home, 1592’s music is dark, edgy, almost dirty at times, yet strangely appealing.  This is not your West Coast third wave sound, nor the ‘let’s light one up and chill’ sort of reggae, but rather a sullen take on the ska/reggae/rocksteady genres.  Just as uncharacteristic as the band’s sound is the voice of lead singer Eric Abbey.  It lacks the gruff punk sound (Tim Armstrong-Rancid), the pop sound (Aaron Barrett-Reel Big Fish) and the soulful sound (Jeremy Pena-The Bandulus).  Eric paves the way with a voice unlike any I have heard, yet as uniquely satisfying as such greats as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame.  The vocals fit in nicely with the rather ‘stripped down style’ created by only five members.  I really enjoy the fact that during most songs, the only horn is the saxophone.  The sax is a really versatile instrument that can evoke many moods, if played right.  Unfortunately, most bands mess this up, having it drowned out by other instrumentation.  Not 1592.   Jeremy Abbey has mastered his craft and takes center stage during many of the songs.  In addition, although this is an excellent recording, Jeremy (and the rest of the band) is really this good in a live setting as well.  I really enjoyed this album and I can’t wait to have a second listen.  While their last album ‘This One’s For You All’ is great in its own right, 1592 ratchets their new album to an even higher level.  Although the future of Detroit is always in question, the future is looking bright for this amazing band.

 

Overall Grade: A-

 

 

Check them out:

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Dust off your “Copper Crown!”

So what do we know about Copper Crown?  A relatively newcomer on the scene, this 5-piece started  playing tunes just last year.  Calling Toronto their home base, Copper Crown has just released their first self-titled EP.  I can’t wait to dive in…

 

  1. “The Messenger”- Racing forward with quick tempo and a lone trumpet, “The Messenger” is the perfect blend of soulful vocals and danceable ska.  Great song!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Johnny Muskrat”-Copper Crown stays away from the traditional ska guitar and leans more towards a 90’s alternative feel in this next track. Throw in some pop inspired lyrics about a Muskrat?  and you’ve got yourself one catchy tune.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Summer Haze”-Slightly slower than the previous songs, this one still packs a punch. The trumpet is the icing on the cake of this reggae rock scorcher.  Grade:A

 

  1. “Irene”- Slowing things even further, “Irene” really highlights the beautiful vocals of Gabrielle Byrnes. Oh snap! Copper Crown rocks out near the end before settling back to softer, more soulful territory.  Grade: A

 

Whether the sub-genre is traditional ska or ska of the punk variety, a lot of bands tend to sound the same after a while.  While most bands are happy blending into the crowd, others try to blaze their own musical trail, only to fail miserably.  Copper Crown is the exception, creating a truly unique listening experience which is nothing short of amazing, considering that this is their first release.  It is usually easy for me to drawn comparisons to other bands when doing reviews, but with Copper Crown, I cannot.  Sure Cake might have a trumpet in the band, but I think the similarities end there.  Copper Crown melds several styles of rock and ska in a way that feels natural and never forced.   I usually enjoy my ska bands with several horns, but the single trumpet here is brilliant.  The listener gets to really appreciate its tone and excellent solo work, when it is not muddled with a bunch of other instruments.  This brings me to the Queen Bee of Copper Crown, Miss Gabrielle Byrnes.  Anyone who listens to this recording will immediately be drawn to her talented soulful voice,that could pull off any musical style under the sun.  Sure there are many great voices out there, even within the ska genre, but Gabrielle’s are unlike any I have heard—a unique gift.  This is an excellent recording that deserves all the praise I have given it.  I am really excited about this band and what they have in store of the future.  For now I will crown them king for today!

 

Overall Grade: A

 

 

 

Check them out:

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