This 4-track EP collection features our own Keiko Gutierrez on bass, as well as Robb Johannes on vocals, Jordan Shepherdson on guitar, and Devin Jannetta on drums. Keiko was not always the bassist for the band, but she certainly brings her heart and soul to the production of this album. It gives me a wonderful feeling to know she is a member of our TR Family! She really does us all proud.
The music is modern, but does not seem to suffer from the pitfalls of a lot of modern tuneage, such as over-processing or digital trickery (auto-tune and other electronic repair) that denies the listener a chance to understand that real humans are at the helm.
Devin Jannetta, Keiko Gutierrez, Jordan Shepherdson, Robb Johannes
At my first listen, I heard a real British Invasion atmosphere. The vocals in the opener, When She’s Gone, set the tone with a reality that reminded me of music out of the UK. It’s not punk - more like pop, rock, and grunge all rolled into one. The song is ABOUT something, and the vocals are solid and inviting; Johannes sings with purpose and passion, telling real stories with a real voice. Jannetta on drums is full of energy; I didn’t hear a drummer who was simply backing the others as the obligatory skin-banger, but rather a full-fledged co-creator in the circle of musicians. Real drums, real emotion. Shepherdson’s gritty guitar is the perfect sizzling complement to the mix, a driving voice that keeps the music raging along!
*NOTE: Robb Johannes plays bass on this one. He brings to the opening song a full-on thunderous bottom end. When he and Jannetta team up for a bass-drum passage in the middle of the song, I couldn’t help but stomp along. When She’s Gone is a BIG song played by BIG artists.
Okay, that’s the music. But what about the song itself? As the starter, When She’s Gone is about a breakup, specifically a breakup based on truth and lies (see album title). There’s some question about the reasons for the breakup, but the lyrics, “We could walk together, let a good thing go to waste. We can dig forever; the past is such a big, big place. She can say it’s over, but she’ll miss me when she’s gone.” The last sentence is a great lyric. Someone else might have written “...she’ll miss me when I’M gone.” The choice of “...she’ll miss me when SHE’S gone...” puts a definitive NAIL in the coffin, and tells us that the person knows who’s doing the leaving. It removes the narcissism from the equation.
The second number is Moral Of The Story and it starts with a softer guitar and a great retro feel. The band truly strikes a tone of a time-gone-by, and I love it. Catchy melody with hand-clapping hooks and rhythms. Keiko’s presence is well-placed. The song reached my ears as a march through the streets, where questions were asked of the bystanders as well as the musicians themselves. My fave type of song is one where the lyrics ask questions. As to its part in the story, it's as if the person is (maybe just a little) mocking himself as he searches for answers.
Bonfire Of Vanities is a term to describe an ancient (mostly Italian) ritual of burning those things that were sinful or that caused one to do sinful things. It could be as simple as Authorities instructing individuals to burn clothing that was deemed too suggestive, or as serious as an entire group of priests capturing and burning gays alive to save society (and the souls of the condemned) from (allegedly) corrupt influences. In a nutshell, a Bonfire of Vanities is a purging.
Heavy theme for a song, hey? Well, in the case of this song, the idea is whether one should burn the photos of a failed relationship, or burn the fantasies that the individual held onto about whether or not the relationship was what it really seemed to be in the first place. In the end, the person keeps the photos and lets go of the fantasies. “People always change, but the photos stay the same. Don’t burn them; they’ll always be true. But throw our fantasies in a bonfire of vanities. The truth hurts less than losing you.” It’s a very emotional concept, played out as a heart on the sleeve of a hurting soul. My fave song in the collection, for sure. It’s more than just lyrics and music; it’s a realisation.
The musicianship is very disarming for such a serious premise. The guitar and vocals are very soft and muted. Things get more aggressive as the message intensifies, and when the bass and drums finally come in, you’re in pretty deeply. It’s a well-structured story, musically speaking. I really like the way bass and drums are paired up throughout this entire collection.
The last song is called Shattered Hearts. Beautiful opening with the guitar, then a more traditional bass and drums combo come in to get all that heaviness from Vanities to settle down a bit. This is more or less the completion of a cycle. As the person backs away from the fire, there’s a sense that he’s taking a step toward starting over. Ah, you all know how I love albums with a good conclusion! This one doesn’t specifically say that everything is OK, but it suggests an effort is about to be made. An open-ended story.
It’s safe to say that our Keiko Gutierrez has fused with a winning combination of musicians in PAINT, and they have the potential to go a long way. They play well together and complement each other nicely.
The songs of this EP are also featured in the movie entitled 11:11. It’s a rather adult bit of art, but, hey, I’ve seen Last Exit To Brooklyn, so very little shocks me anymore. Ha!
This movie definitely won’t be for everyone, but it has artistic appeal if you know what you’re getting into. Keiko was not involved in the filming; it was done before she entered the band, but there is a small cameo of her toward the end.
If you are OK with adult concepts in films, it’s available on the band’s website http://paintband.com. There you will also find the album for sale (it’s a name your own price policy).
Do yourself a favour and BUY yourself this EP. It’s refreshingly different, meaningful, very musical, a wonderful chance to hear this great group of musicians. Congrats to Keiko and the others for this achievement!
© 2016 CL Seamus for Thunder Row
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