EP REVIEW: The Only Ocean - Kaleidoscopic
By: Cyrus Rhodes
The Only Ocean
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Punk Rock, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
Sounds Like: Jimmy Eat World, Incubus, Green Day, Chevelle
Technical Grade: 6/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Recording Quality, Mixing, Winded Songs, Lackluster Production Quality
California 5 piece band The Only Ocean releases their debut EP entitled Kaleidoscopic in 2011. Band members include Wesley Hill (Vocals , Guitar) Alex Burdess (Bass) Dustin Whalen (Guitar) & Shae Kakos (Drums)
The EP kicks things off with “Those Ghosts” a rocking melody that serves driving rock rhythm against well placed harmonies, inviting psychedelic flair & heartfelt vocals by Hill. Track 2 “I Don’t Know Why” shifts gears a bit delivering driving rock rhythm, with hypnotic vocal delivery & thought provoking lyrics from Hill. Track 3 “The Dying Days” methodically slithers across your ears & peaks & valleys its way through to emotional fruition. It’s quite impressive how well Hill makes these songs his own, with his effective harmonies & infectious vocal timber. As the EP slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Jimmy Eat World, Incubus, Green Day & even Chevelle. I would classify this music as indie alternative rock, pop with a classic basement band aftertaste. I might add Hill takes some very impressive vocal risks along the way indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. I didn’t fail to notice a few well-placed falsettos along the way either. This EP has something for just about everyone. The EP ends with “My Thoughts” the perfect finale statement for a EP of this caliber.
The overall production quality (recording, mixing, mastering) seems to be somewhat erratic, amateurish, & a bit all over the place. After doing some homework I suspect the Mastering is not the issue here (more on this later). From drums that lack serious bottom end, to obscure sounding distorted guitars, & vocal levels that seem extremely disproportional to the music – this CD has all the trademarks of a "basement garage-band" mix job. The production is even littered with slight timing flaws. Bottom Line - It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix, & master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall marketability cannot be overstated. Each phase of the production process must be successful – in other words it doesn’t matter how good your Mastering Engineer is if the Recording & Mixing is substandard. If this was 1975 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2011, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like The Only Ocean. Given the talent factor of this band & the scope of his songwriting craft, amazing vocal performances - it’s a bit unfortunate besides being unorthodox. All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
To me Kaleidoscopic is a diamond in the rough release. It’s strong suit – its amazing musical flow & overall consistency. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, & powerful. Each song possesses a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Last but not least this band are very capable songwriters & performers. If I could say anything to “The Only Ocean” - it would be to surround yourself with world class Mixing & Recording Engineers that can do your music proper justice thus giving your audience a musical production they so rightfully deserve. Also remember each production phase must be done successfully before moving on to the next. Having said that it's safe to say their best work is yet to come.