CD REVIEW: Decoded - Topange (EP)
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Genre: Alternative Rock,
Collective Soul, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More
NOTE: 10 star rating are reserved only for Full Length CD's.
Formed in 2012, Decoded has already been through 20 members. Indecisive? Maybe. The garage rock group has also reinvented its sound three times within that span. Weathering the storm, frontman Derek Jordan and drummer Heather Miller were the only two remaining members when they set out to record the organic rock inspired "Topanga" EP, released on 11/12/13. Rounding out the lineup, Ian McCulloch (guitar) and Amy Clark (bass) joined decoded in October 2013 and November 2013 respectively. Their latest EP “Topange” was released in 2013. and contains 6 Tracks.
First up the title track serves up an enticing bass ridden groove meshed against driving rock rhythm, strong melody and impressive hard hitting vocals from Jordan. This intro track sets the stage rather well for a fun and rocking EP like this. Track 2 takes flight with “Last Night” a rocked out lullaby complete with hypnotic groove, sonic vocal presence and impressive psychedelic guitar accents. Track 3 “Red Handed” dishes out a hypnotic track with its pulsating low end guitar, impassioned vocal fee, and grand slam chorus. As these songs slowly unfolded I could hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Collective Soul, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Cake, Blind Mellon, Beck and perhaps a dash of Franz Ferdinand the The Pixies. I would classify this music as Alternative Rock, with a slight hard hitting edge that is Psychedelic, melodic and raw. The songs themselves are addictive, eccentric, fascinating, intoxicating and easy to groove to. - all reflections of Jordan no doubt. One can't notice passionate and powerful sexualized subject matter delivered between the spoken word, with a heavy dose of satire on the side. The musicianship, keyboard accents, soloing, harmonies and production touches from Jordan and company are rock solid across the board. Jordan showcases rock solid vocal instants throughout. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice things like thick low end beats and rhythms, impressive keyboard accents, well placed vocals, effective solos, and lush harmonies. Jordan is an accomplished composer, musician, vocalist no doubt. He is the quintessential rock star and reminds me of a modern day version of Frank Black. Equally as impressive is the how Jordan makes the (singer to listener) vocal connection with his songs. He has an appealing timber and crisp, sharp baritone. Jordan takes many impressive vocal risks throughout the EP indicating to me a strong, confident vocal ability. All engineering aspects check out well as the EP possesses think low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. From dynamic “Judgment Day” to melodic “I can’t Control it” and “Not Easy Being Alone” the perfect finale statement for an EP like this. These latest songs from Topanga delivers in grad fashion and provide a tantalizing musical teaser definitely worth checking out live or in the studio.
Track 1 is a bit short. More solo segments from guitar and from keyboards would mix up the catalog a bit better. Jordan should play the kazoo, horn or accordion on a few tracks. Why not let one of the females take lead on a song vocally? I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases as the full length CD is the best most complete snapshot to judge an artists by at any point in time
In close Topange by Decoded. is a hard hitting, zany, fun musical experience from start to finish. The music is rocked out, fresh, fun and highly entertaining. It’s strong suit – its impressive vocal presence and impressive songwriting finesse from Jordan and company. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, and captivating. All these songs have a ring of truth to them and are boldly honest in a comical way. The songs are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair, and signature groove. These guys are probably a total riot to check out live. I must admit Topanga sucked me in like a powerful drug and refused to let go long after these songs were over. This usually indicates he is something special about the artist or band in question. Thus deserving praise, recognition and musical fame at the international level.