CD REVIEW: Go Time - Ratsel
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist/Band: Go TIme
Classic Psychedelic Rock, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, College Rock
Weakness: A Few Winded Songs, DIY Mix, Repetitive Catalog, Dated Sound, Micro Timing Errors
Taking power pop to less-traveled latitudes - is Chicago-based band, GO TIME! Members: Scott Niekelski (composer/lead guitar/vocals), Marko Marketti (bass) and Steve Grzenia (percussion) Scott is a prolific song writer at the front of a powerhouse power pop band. The debut CD, "Speak" was released in May 2009, "Hit It" being released in December 2010, January 2012 “Boneshaker”, and March 2013 "Tight Like Wood". Deeply submerged in amped up jangle and buzz, along with a healthy dose of subtle pop riffs and stream-of-consciousness transitions GO TIME recorded in their home studio for Sound Gypsy Records and Mike Hagler at King Size Sound Labs mastered the CD. Mike is known for mixing and mastering bands such as Wilco, Neko Case, The New Pornographers, The Redwalls, John Langford, The Mekons, Billy Bragg, Ezra Furman and Caliphone, just to name a few.
The CD quickly takes to flight with a rock steady intro piece “The Secrets”. This song serves up infectious rocked out musical ambience against mesmerizing vocals, hypnotic distorted guitar against driving rock rhythm that gently leads you by the hand down the path of psychedelic musical indulgence. Track 2 “Destroy In Field” shifts gears a bit with its cut to the chase intro, hard rocking melody and jagged edge vibe meshed agaisnt infectious vocal flair and impressive solo guitar. Track 3 “Demand” is a hooky-hypnotic piece that is full of musical peaks and valleys, impressive harmonies that flow and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. By track 4 this CD hits solid stride delivering many impressive songs back to back. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of a classic Dinosaur Jr, Johnny Rivers, The Hollies, Black Sabbath, Todd Rundgren, R.E.M. David Byrne (Talking Heads), The Cars and even brief flashes of They Might be Giants” and even a dash of The Flaming Lips. I would classify this music as Alternative Rock with a Indie College Rock flair. I can also hear some old school Psychadelic classic rock popular in the 60’s and 70’s. The CD at times presents a strong consistency via Niekelski's strong artistic perspective. He's clearly the mastermind behind "Go Time" Lyrics are very thought provoking – hence the title of the CD. Besides the four piece standard you will also notice traces of Piano, impressive solo guitar, rhythm guitar, psychedelic Organ, Acoustic Guitar, lush harmonies, keyboards - all built on a thick as a brick rhythmic foundation. Niekelski and company showcases impressive yet striking songwriting skills throughout. The musicianship and compositions are pretty solid across the board. Vocally Niekelski reminds me a lot of Michael Stipe (R.E.M.). Niekelski and the gang are clearly letting it all hang out on this release. Kudos goes out to the impressive solo guitar licks from Niekelski. All production aspects are above the bar. Niekelski has an effective carefree baritone and all harmonies are effective and well placed. From my personal favorite “Tailspin” to melodic “Life’s Wide Array” to rocking “Time Bomb”, “Get By” and “In Front of Me” to striking “Shotgun Express” to thought provoking “Back Around” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 19 “Take Me Home, Country Roads” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. Some aspects of the mix sound a bit amateurish lacking depth and modern day dynamics track to track – especially on high end speakers, and especially in 2015. CD tends to sound a bit repetitive overall – song for song, track to track. "Go Time" should experiment with a few more time signatures and even record a few tracks with nothing but guitar and vocals. I detected some minor micro-timing and micro-tuning errors along the way. The overall musical syncopation between all instruments is loose as a screw and needs to be tightened up a bit. CD sounds somewhat dated reminiscent of bands popular 30+ years ago. "Go Time" should consider modernizing their sound without compromising their impressive Psychedelic Musical foundation.
“Ratsel” from Go Time is a consistent, high energy, rocked out, psychedelic musical journey. This DIY band from Chicago is making waves for themselves for a reason. I’ve read this band is a total riot to catch live. At the end of the day they have a very appealing “Grip it and Rip It” attitude that tales no prisoners. This 19 Track extended play format presents good "Bang for Buck" and will be a real joy for those listeners out there who want flowing psychedelic rock staple to fill their musical atmosphere. This straight forward, easy to digest musical flow makes for a great rocking musical experience many will enjoy. I recommend you just hit play, close your eyes and see where the journey takes you.