ALBUM REVIEW: Montauk by Montauk

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www.takemetomontauk.com

Montauk are a British pop/rock band and the musical brainchild of songwriter and lead vocalist Drew Richardson. He has been writing music from an early age and Montauk is the culmination of a lifelong dream. The band is much a product of the internet era; on this album Drew worked face to face with producer/guitarist Tom Jobling, vocalist Rebecca Chambers and drummer  Sam West, however fellow members Jon Wright and Max Saudi (guitar and drums respectively) recorded their parts online, a method used by many artists and producers today.

This self-titled album, and the band name itself, was inspired by the classic film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, about a couple who have their memories of each other erased to get over their relationship. This theme recurs on certain songs on the album. Musically, while they can be essentially described as commercial pop/rock, there’s an eclecticism within the songs and you can hear similarities to bands like The Killers, U2, Bon Jovi, The War On Drugs, Snow Patrol and Red Hot Chili Peppers, along with solo artists like George Ezra, Ed Sheeran and the more mature solo work of Gary Barlow.

Opening track Doom Dust is a superb start to this twelve track album. Beginning with echo-drenched guitars, it builds into an anthemic, uplifting song about trying to realize your full potential. You can tell quite quickly that Richardson is an experienced and accomplished craftsman. There’s a firm understanding of dynamics in how he keeps the verse and chorus cohesive, yet contrasting.

The chorus itself is huge, augmented by the fine backing vocals of Rebecca Chambers, whose voice complements Drew’s nicely. Lyrically, it expresses something many will relate to, feeling things block you from truly being yourself: “I want to shake this world to the core and let the people know that I’ve got so much more“. It’s the kind of music you can imagine thousands singing along to in sold out arenas, and the mellifluous guitar solo fits perfectly. A perfect balance between rock and pop.

Fall in Love is one of the album’s more romantic moments, and another very finely crafted song. It’s one which wears its heart on its sleeve, lyrically: “Could you be the missing link, the mixer for the bitter drink that is my life?“. It’s another lighters-in-the-air epic chorus and the subtle combination of male and female vocals made me think of one of Britain’s great unsung pop groups The Beautiful South (early era).

Hanging Baskets has the most beautiful intro on the album, crystal-clear picked acoustic guitar setting the tone for an intimate lead vocal from Richardson. It’s a song about wanting to just enjoy being in love without letting anything else intrude: “I don’t know if its wrong, don’t know if its right….I don’t know what has gone, I don’t care what’s to come…”. This is a very touching song that should win him many fans.

Welcome To You is an interesting song, with shades of later period Mumford and Sons in the folk-inflected melodies and rolling drum patterns. The vocal melody is very modern sounding to go with the production, and the instantly memorable vocal melody makes it very suitable for radio. After the second chorus, it breaks out into a gorgeous symphonic section; the album is full of these nuanced touches that add richness to the sound. A potential single.

Heart Attack takes things in another direction entirely – an upbeat funk/blues track driven by rhythmic piano and bursts of organ, featuring some slick harmonies. Drew gives an excellent vocal performance here and this different style shows the versatility of his songwriting. Lyrically, its a classic tale of falling for someone where the passion burns so much that it makes for a tempestuous relationship. Well written, high quality pop .

The intriguingly named Osidius (Just A Girl) returns to epic rockier style of the opening song though this one leans more heavily to the rock side. Alongside another massive, memorable chorus (an area where Richardson excels), it features some gorgeous, plaintive strings and a blistering stood-on-a-cliff-edge lead guitar solo. The following Love For Sale maintains the Bon Jovi vocal and guitar style, with the riffs and harmonies on this one really showing the more classic rock side of his oeuvre.

Eternal Sunshine is the first of two consecutive songs based on the film mentioned earlier. Here, Richardson effectively captures the emotional torment the lead characters go through in the film. Musically, it’s one of the more sparse tracks and it’s a proper duet with Rebecca Chambers, who depicts the character played by Kate Winslet. It works so well, that you could imagine it as part of a musical based on the film. Their voices combine and harmonize beautifully on the tender chorus, a real album highlight.

Take Him To Montauk is essentially the title track and it’s a good one. It starts with a vocal ‘dum-de-dum’ section that brought to mind George Ezra, whilst the gorgeous high end acoustic guitar and vocal delivery recall the lighter moments of Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s clearly about the main character of Eternal Sunshine (played by Jim Carrey) and how he’s missing his lover despite having had all memories of her erased. The title hook (“Take him to Montauk, driver….”) is very effective and latches in the mind upon the first listen. Another potential single.

Tell The Fool is another moody epic ballad in the Bon Jovi mould and stands out for a particularly good lead vocal. It should be said that his singing voice is as good as anything you’ll come across in the upper reaches of the charts, and this song is one crowds will love to sway along to.

I Won’t Want To Wake Up With You is a return to the toe-tapping pop funk style of Heart Attack, propelled by an irresistible groove and Chic-style funky high-end electric guitar chords. Special mention should go to the restlessly inventive bassline (including a superb bass solo!) and the smoky Rhodes piano. Richardson’s falsetto vocals in parts of the track sounded like Justin Timberlake, and this ability to switch genres gives massive potential to his fanbase.

Closing track Dance With The Devil is essentially his signature pop/rock sound, though with an intriguing arrangement. It starts out sounding like The Police with reggae-infused quarter note guitars then unexpectedly switches into an almost punky full-on rock style. The rich organ gives the song a 70’s Deep Purple vibe, and it works. There’s a tremendous brooding energy that seems to explode in the orgasmic guitar solo, then leads into the penultimate choruses. Lyrically, it’s by far the most raw and edgy he gets on this album, with a few words at the end I can’t repeat here! A blazing way to finish.

Overall, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, one that runs the gamut in terms of both genre and emotional range. Drew Richardson has honed his songwriting craft to a fine pitch and can go from sensitive balladry to headbanging rock n’ roll with consummate ease, throwing in funk, soul and even a little reggae influence along the way. Though this is far from an easy era to break through to the ‘big time’, if any band deserves to it’s undoubtedly Montauk.

 

VERDICT = 9.3 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

You can purchase a CD or download the album from the official website HERE

2 bonus tracks are available only for those who download or purchase through the website!

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SINGLE REVIEW: Better Than Before by Eduard Alexogiannopoloulos

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Eduard Alexogiannopoloulos is a singer and songwriter in the acoustic pop genre originally from Greece (as some may guess from his surname) but is now based in England. His musical style has been compared to Counting Crows, Matt Costa and Third Eye Blind though I would personally place his music in the category of songwriters like Ed Sheeran and George Ezra, along with the British group from a few years ago, The Feeling. He released his first single, Need To Know, in 2017.

This song, Better Than Before, is a great showcase for Eduard’s unique sensibilities as a songwriter. Musically, the track is essentially upbeat acoustic pop and Eduard is blessed with a distinctive yet very radio-friendly voice. Lyrically, there’s a likeable quirkiness that is self-evident from the opening lines: “All we need is an hour of sunshine, a glass of cheap wine….”.

What is impressive about the song is how memorable it is without relying on over-repetition like so many modern chart hits. The vocal melody soon latches in the mind while the lyrics continually move the song forward, so that it never grows stale. The subtle Scouting For Girls-type quarter-note piano also aids the momentum and special mention should go to the first rate production, which both inventive and classy.

Overall, this is a well-crafted, infectious second single from a young singer/songwriter who has a gift for writing charming melodies set to colourful lyrics. His music seems perfect for the times as well as highly suited to mainstream pop radio, so with more songs of this high quality I predict this is one name you may hear a lot of in the future. Good luck pronouncing it.

 

 

VERDICT: 8.6 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: All Night by Grayson Word

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https://www.facebook.com/graysonwordmusic/

Grayson Word is a soul/RnB singer hailing from Nashville. Although only eighteen, this year he’s already released his first EP, Different Kind of Free, which was produced by Nathan Meckel at the Cowboy Jack Clement Studio in Nashville (Johnny Cash, U2, Louis Armstrong). Grayson regards his main influences as classic soul singers such as Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Stevie Wonder along with groups like Earth, Wind & Fire and The Rolling Stones.

This song, All Night, is a soul-infused pop track perhaps closest to the style of Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. Starting with mood-setting piano, it bursts into life with an infectious beat augmented by funky guitar and catchy vocal hooks from the start. On the verse, Grayson sings in his lower register with a smooth, distinctive voice not dissimilar to George Ezra. It builds swiftly to the falsetto chorus which lodges in the mind instantly.

On the second verse, we hear short bursts of Rhodes electric piano which adds to the soulful feel. After the second chorus a concise guitar solo gives a little more musicality and flavour before returning for one last chorus. Lyrically, it’s timeless fare about being blown away by a girl and wanting to spend time with her: “We can spin some Marvin Gaye and do it all again...”. Grayson’s vocal performance is superb and the flawless, slick production makes it perfect for radio.

Overall, this is a highly impressive soul-tinged pop track by a young artist mature beyond his years. With an impressive voice plus a natural charisma, his youth will only add to his commercial appeal and this song will work equally well on the radio as well as the dancefloor. He may already have the song that helps him break through to the big time, so he could well be a name you’ll hear plenty more of in the future.

 

VERDICT = 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Something Else by Tim Spriggs

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www.timspriggs.com

Tim Spriggs is a singer and songwriter hailing from Australia. He grew up in an environment surrounded by music, learning guitar along the way. Over the past ten years he has been honing his songwriting craft and this has culminated in the release of his first material, a five song EP called Something Else, with this being the title track and lead single. His music is essentially in the genre of acoustic pop though he has stated that he listens to a wide array of artists and genres.

To my ear, Tim Spriggs belongs in a long lineage of acoustic singer/songwriters and troubadours. His finger picking style recalls classic songwriters of the past like Nick Drake and Cat Stevens, along with more modern artists like Ed Sheeran and George Ezra. Vocally, Tim is blessed with a rich baritone voice, singing in a low register similar to Ezra and not sounding unlike fellow Australian Nick Cave at times.

Something Else is exquisitely recorded, consisting of crystal clear acoustic guitar and vocals, at least to begin with. The song is about individuality and making your own choices despite the influence of others: “They tell me what I want, maybe it’s what I need….but I want something else…”. The first section features some fine Nick Drake-esque finger picking from Spriggs, who has developed a unique style as a guitarist.

This minimal style is nice contrasted by a 2/4 section featuring some Western-style whistling and tastefully driven electric guitar. The resulting sound is very polished and radio friendly, which bodes well for his commercial prospects. More importantly, the song has a memorable hook and an emotive quality that is best described as ‘real’, clearly written from the heart.

Overall, this is an extremely accomplished song from an artist who has emerged fully formed and hit the ground running. He has developed his own style so that he stands out from the crowd yet would not sound out of place next to similar sounding artists on mainstream radio, a difficult and vital balancing act. I expect his music to gain rapidly in popularity and the release of his debut album could make a seriously strong impact on the music world.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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