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CD REVIEW: Backnbloom - Music for the Monkeys (2011)

By: Cyrus Rhodes










Artist: Backnbloom

CD: Music for the Modern Monkey

Label: Independent Artist

Website: http://www.backnbloom.com

Genre: Alternative Rock, Power Pop

Sounds Like: Ace of Base, Garbage, No Doubt, Pink

Technical Grade: 8/10

Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Heed the Flashes, Slip Away, Venice  

Weakness: Lack of Instrumentation and musical depth, Overly sonic and synthetic




California based “Backnbloom” just released their latest CD entitled Music for the Modern Monkey in 2011. The band consists of Lori Steele (vocals) and Alberto Beka (Programming and Engineering). CD was mixed by Backnbloom with Mark Needham mixing the title track.  


The CD kicks things off with “Heed the Flashes” a catchy intro piece that sets the stage rather appropriately for this catchy catalogue of music. This first piece explodes in your ears quite like a lemon would explode in your mouth. It has pulsating rhythms, catchy vocals set against a grand mosaic of exotic soundscapes and musical melody. Track 2 entitled “Start Again” serves up a steady rock driven groove against pulsating melody and vocal layering that can be described as captivating, mesmerizing and infectious. Track 3 “Slip Away” keeps thing moving with a dynamic piece that’s serves up everything from a pulsating low end beat, sonic guitar ambience, and exotic layers of sound that come at you from every which direction. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of Garbage, No Doubt, Pink, Ace of Base, Berlin and even Missing Persons. The music is extremely melodic but definitely brings to the table a lot of musical variety and a degree of unpredictability. It possess musical elements of modern Power Pop, Dance and even Alternative Rock. You will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere - from rhythm guitar, well placed solo guitar, driving sonic beats and rhythms, synthesizers keyboard accents and well placed vocal harmonies. The vocal abilities from Steele fill the sonic space quite well and mesh well with this catalogue of music perfectly. She is the perfect vocalist for a band like this. Bekas sonic touches and accents are well thought out and effective. All band members play their parts extremely well song for song and note for note. The sonic overdubbing and mixing touches are packed to the hilt with teasers that lunge at you from every direction. There's not a dull moment on the entire production. The melodic layering is deep, the sonic ambience is infectious and the music is rocked out and just fun to listen to. From mesmerizing “The Feel” and “Venice” to hypnotic “Empty Spaces” and “Flicker” to rocking “King of the Radio” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Hollywood Blvd” (remix) the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.


I wish some of the drums and bass grooves had more bottom end punch to them. At the end of the day some of the beats sound a bit thin. It’s fair to say the catalogue is a bit repetitive overall. Perhaps more instrumentation is needed to bring just a tad more musical variety to the table. Things like percussive accents, ska-horns, flutes, and piano: anything to spice up the production a bit more. I might add these instruments possess acoustic qualities to them which would have given the mix more musical depth and texture. This CD also sounds extremely synthetic and overly sonic. I would wager Backnbloom recorded this whole CD with nothing more than a Guitar, a PC, and a Microphone. At the end of the day this CD sounds extremely one dimensional. All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.


From start to finish Music for the Modern Monkey by “Backnbloom” is a rock solid production. It’s extremely consistent, catchy, original and very melodic. It’ strength – a total blast to listen to. The songs are extremely catchy and marketable. All songs grab you refusing to let go. All in all Backnbloom combine amazing songwriting, top flight originality, with rich sonic layering and effects. Make no bones about it these are 2 talented composers and performers. When the ride is over you will want to do it all over again.


Cyrus Rhodes