Written by Maria Arroyo
Artist: East Village
Album: Hotrod Hotel
“Her Father’s Son” starts off their album with a very carefree acoustic sound that has a great buildup in instrumentation. I definitely think there’s something to be said for artists who take the time to notice the importance of dynamics, not just in live performances but also in their studio and recording sessions.
“Precious Diamond Tears” and “Strawberry Window” have a similar melody and tempo to them and shows there is some consistency in playing and songwriting style. “Precious Diamond Tears” in particular uses arpeggiated chords to give some variety to the song, along with this juxtaposition between his hard rocker voice and a soft acoustic guitar. The heavy piano melody made the song come alive for me!
“Cubans In The Bluefields” calms the sound for a little, which makes for an effortless listen. I felt this song gave me a minute to breathe and really process the next part of the album.
“Break Your Neck”, in particular, was hard to grasp because the title of the song and the feeling of the song couldn’t be more polar opposites. With a title as brazen as “Break Your Neck”, I expected a harder alternative rock style, so you can understand my confusion when the whole song was so relaxed and not as aggressive as I anticipated it to be. While it threw me off for a second, it did make me listen harder to the rest of the songs because it made me feel as if they had something important to say: and they wanted to get your attention so you would listen to them.
Up next are songs “Kathleen” and “Back Between Spaces”. These songs did a great job of changing the direction of the album in terms of sound because it’s always at this point in the albums I feel we start to hear the same things over again. While I respect their sound, a lot of their songs start to blend together because of how indistinguishable their sound is, and the amount of risk taken for this album did not feel high enough. This is more prevalent in the tracks “Vibrato”, “Here It Comes” and “Violin.”
“Freeze Out” had this insanely incredible guitar solo, but the track itself was at the same level volume-wise as the rest of the tracks, so it ended up sounding like an impressively executed backing track, making it a bit of a downfall for them. Mix wise, all the tracks stayed at the same level with very little buildup. It felt as if all their energy and passion went to the first song so that intensity was not distributed to the other tracks.
Their last track on Hotrod Hotel was hands down the best! “Go And See Him” had everything I thought the album was lacking! There was so much more build-up in the instrumentation, energy, and a lot more intricacies in the percussion and guitar parts. It bothers me a little that I had to wait until the end to hear it, but I’d say it was worth the wait.
Overall, I appreciate their sound was not excessively produced, so a live performance would sound similar to this album performance It is a good listen, but in the end, I couldn’t pick out a favorite song or musical moment that really wowed me to make me go back for a second listen.
I think it needs more outside influences and inspiration to add to their sound and work to enhance it even more! Their song structure is satisfying, but it felt the same every time.
Personally, a lot of the small problems I heard are absolutely fixable! More time is needed to mix and master in the studio. Their sound is strong, but their untapped potential is still hiding somewhere deep in their sound!