I didn’t really want to write this review. Andy, a member of the band, is my supervisor at work and asked me to write one. The big problem then, is that as a supervisor, any bad review is a mark against me and a good review is seen as ass kissing. I could just not write the review, but I’m too adventurous for that. No, the gauntlet has been thrown, and I must accept.
At the start, the packaging is a cardboard slipcase instead of a jewel case. There are four people on the cover, the lead singer standing on a chair, overlooking the other three who are sitting down. He is holding a bright red bullhorn, but isn’t shouting through it. Flip the slipcase over and you see four more people, the rest of the people in the band. Again, there are three people sitting, but at the far end is Andy standing, his back turned and wearing a black cowboy hat.
The ep has only five songs on it, however, they clock in at just over 23 minutes. The overall sound is rock in roll with The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Chicago influences. Like the great classic rock bands, The Suburban Sound utilizes a horn section. The first track, “Take Off,” starts with a “make your ass jiggle” guitar riff and a crescendoing “hey yaaaa” that breaks into a rock n roll shout. The guitar finally breaks into a chord and the the horn section breaks in with Chicago-esque harmony. When the vocals start, they are comfortably sung, yet are definitely rock n roll.
The song after that, “Shadow,” begins with a bouncing bass line, then the guitars come in followed by the horns. It starts off cool, then goes into a chorus which really highlights the horns well. Unfortunately, the song goes on too long and the chorus gets too repetitive. The song is almost saved by the cool dual guitar solo, however, I can’t get past the chorus.
“Bed of Roses” starts slow, with a solid bass that leads the pack and an easy, wandering guitar solo. Again, dual soloing, which adds that Skynyrd atmosphere. The song builds well with the slow start before finally releasing with enthusiastic vocals, grand horns, more soloing. The same plague that reared it’s ugly head on “Shadow” again manifests it’s self as the chorus repeats too many times. If they had ended the song after the last set of solos, the song would have ended beautifully.
The beginning of “Black Cat” is mediocre, especially compared with the rest of the cd. It is redeemed by having the catchiest chorus on the EP. Then track five, “The Fight,” starts smoothly and almost subconsciously. Another ass jiggle beginning marks it’s start where it blasts right into the chorus. The verse features more dual guitar soloing, only in an off beat way. Then things shift direction and there is a distorted, robotic-like voice and… a power drill run through a guitar pickup? Things start to blitz as the vocals start getting shouted through a bullhorn. And it all ends with a phone dial tone.
For an independently released album, the major question is often the production. While good production can’t save already bad songs, bad production can ruin the best of songs. I had been fairly familiar with the songs since Andy had brought rough mixes in to work. Of course, the computer speakers and quieter volume required for the work environment don’t exactly bring out the best in sound. I was very pleased when I put the cd in my home cd player with headphones. The sound was huge. Everything was mixed so that nothing stuck out like a sore thumb or hidden from hearing. Probably one of the best produced independent release albums I’ve heard.
If you like rock n roll, go to The Suburban Sound web page, www.thesuburbansound.com. There is contact info there if you want to pick up the cd.