Collin Stanley is a musician, singer, songwriter and producer currently residing in New York City. He was raised in Detroit, Michigan and his earliest musical influences were blues, classic rock and garage rock. Bands and artists such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The White Stripes and Stevie Ray Vaughan were formative on the musical style he has today. He collaborates with bass player Chris Agar and drummer/pianist/producer Eric Hoegemeyer. This EP, Can’t Go Home, is the first fruits of their labours together
Opening track The Underground sets out their stall in emphatic fashion. Starting gently with just light guitar and Collin Stanley’s casually captivating vocals, the enigmatic opening lines draw you in: “I’ll take you down to the underground, everything is strange, so profound…it all goes down”.
After the brooding, restrained verse it bursts into a volcanic chorus of raw, razor-edged electric guitars duelling with primal and powerful White Stripes-style drumming. Atop of this Collin delivers a vaulting lead vocal, drenched in cavernous reverb. Musically, you can hear those formative influences but sublimated into a unique style that lies at the midpoint between classic, alternative and garage rock.
There’s a great understanding of quiet/loud dynamics with this song that brought to mind The Pixies and Nirvana, indeed, the arrangement brought to mind the latter’s Heart Shaped Box from In Utero. After the second chorus it enters an extended refrain section which delivers the knockout punch, where we find the EP title, Collin singing “I can’t go home anymore…” with resigned desperation. A superb song, put simply.
Second track Time Future is another song with an unusual but inspired arrangement that works perfectly. It begins with just a ghostly, distorted vocal and offbeat reggae style guitars, the haunting vocal melody bringing to mind Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs.
About a minute in and the music explodes into a chugging Black Keys-esque stomp with shades of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Again, it encapsulates an entertaining fusion of rock styles and the final section is joyously anthemic, which will be a lot of fun to hear live.
The last track I Came For You is brief at just over two minutes but packs a considerable punch. It’s a mid-paced blues rocker full of Led Zep-style riffs played in octaves and delivered with the laid back cool of Queens Of The Stone Age. It features another charismatic vocal performance from Collin Stanley, some excellent bass playing from Chris Agar and blistering energy behind the kit from Eric Hoegemayer.
Overall, this is an excellent trifecta of songs that fuses the genres of blues, classic and garage rock into a potent, hugely enjoyable amalgamation. Collin Stanley is a fine frontman, and, aided by talented musical cohorts, the result a memorable and vital sound that captures the spirit of rock ‘n roll with a healthy dose of modern day angst. Most importantly, with The Underground, they have their first classic song on their hands. I, for one, can’t wait to hear a full album in the future.
VERDICT = 9 out of 10