CD REVIEW: Catalina Shortwave - Repeater
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Soul Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Alternative Rock, R&B, Jam Band, Funky Pop, Jam Band
Sounds Like: Ian Hunter, Lenny Kravitz, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Dave Matthews Band, Soundgarden, Counting Crows, John Mayer, INXS and Deep Blue Something
Technical Grade: 4/10
Weakness: Winded Songs, Engineering Aspects (Recording, Mix, Mastering), Timing Issues, Dated Sound, Caver Art
(RIDGEFIELD, CT) Catalina Shortwave is a band that thumbs its nose at genres. They are proudly lo-fi and have intuited that the beauty and magic of music can happen when the strength of the songs and the passion of the performances overcomes the usual limitations of a DIY project. The players – Brent, Marty and Dave – are three hardscrabble New York/New England music veterans who weave their hearts and lives into the music – the lost loves, the backbreaking lust, and the struggles with life’s poisons. With “Repeater”, they left their blood on the strings. Band members are: Marty Stauffer - Guitar, Dave Rizzo - Vocals, Brent Morton - Guitar, John Garvey – Drums.
The CD takes off nicely with grooving “Don’ Never Take Your Love Away” a slamming, smooth flowing intro piece that serves up slamming Guitar, well placed harmonies and soulful vocal delivery from Rizzo and company. Track 2 “Running on Vapor” keeps things moving in the right direction with hard rocking ibe served up against steady flowing rhythm, well placed vocal/guitar tandems, painted against a hooky chorus making for one of the best songs on the CD. Track 3 “You Raised Hell On Me” shifts gears a bit with its methodical intro, with impressive vocal feel and Top Tiered musical syncopation from Rizzo and company that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar. I would classify this music as Soulful Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Americana, Jam Band, and Alternative Rock with brief touches of R&B, Jam Band, and what I like to call heartfelt Intellectual Singer/Songwriter. That's a pretty long list. Music is not easy to pigeonhole but is reminiscent of classic Lenny Kravitz, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Ian Hunter, Deep Purple, Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, Soundgarden, John Mayer, INXS and Deep Blue Something. Besides the three/four piece standard one can also appreciate much in the way of lush instrumentation with things like impressive rhythm guitar, Psychedelic guitar solos, lush vocal harmonies layered everywhere all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to Rizzo - as for his vocal abilities well he’s a great advent. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timber that is simply infectious and soulful. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. I like his power, swagger and soul. His voice reminds me of a more modern version of (Lenny Kravitz), David Lee Roth (Van Halen) and Adam Duritz (Counting Crows). All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board - world class songwriting and instrumentation. This CD from Catalina Shortwave 15 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music of Catalina Shortwave has everything you would expect from a “grip it and rip it” musical production. From heartfelt “Naturally” and “There Ain’t Much Going’ On But the Bottle” to rocking “Wintersong” and rocking “Jennifer’s Paradise” to striking “Hazel Dear” to melodic “Apart” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 9 “It Aint Cool to Say you’re From Seattle Anymore” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
All songs over 3.5 minutes drag you to the finish line. The Mix is extremely erratic and amateurish overall. From disproportionate instrument levels, to drums that lack low end punch and frequency, to awkward sounding rhythm guitar and overly loud solos that lunge out at you this CD has all the trademarks of a basement band musical production from start to finish. A few songs are easier to digest then others, but overall the mix lacks continuity track to track. Overall sound quality is as clear as mud. This band has good chops and can write and perform good music but they should strongly consider hiring a pro-caliber engineering team (Recording, Mixing, and Mastering) for their next production. Syncopated timing between all instruments needs to be tightened up a bit as well. Some aspects of this bands sound is dated reminiscent of music popular over 30+ years ago. CD cover is a bit amateurish.
From start to finish "Repeater" by Catalina Shortwave is a fun and consistent collection of music. The songwriting – the gold standard, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of this band are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old fashioned no holds barred R&B-Psychedelic-Rock swagger. At the end of the day these cats brings the mojo and have a lot of potential around Connected. Again - they have a lot of potential and it’s safe to say their best album is yet to come as their sound continues to shape and evolve over the years to come.