HEAD – HEAD – EP Review

Here’s a potentially exciting new music project from Vancouver, BC, coming to us in the form of HEAD, who combine electro & rock sounds, sweet & sultry vocals and tight musicianship in some pretty exceptional songs on their debut record. While many attempts at combinations in sound can often end up somewhat confused in today’s music, HEAD has pulled off establishing a firm identity within their six released songs and certainly hint at the promise of even bigger things as they soldier on HEAD -first towards establishing themselves firmly on your playlists.

Now…there are a couple things I can tell you about this band of mayhem-minstrels before we get into the music…and right now they’re all holding their breath afraid I’ll out them from the characters they’ve created…but I won’t. To be fair to you dear readers, I’ll certainly admit I know many of these players quite well from the various stages of Vancouver; but not seeing them like this, or combining their talents together. This group of assembled all-stars are fully into it…there are costumes, makeup, tight-pants, trench-coats and five HEAD(s) in total bringing their energy together, united in a focused direction for their own unique style of music. It might be perceived as more of a gimmick at first, but the songs, sound and material on the HEAD EP should be able to transcend any pre-conceived notions and find their way to a shot on many stereos out there; and on the other side of that coin, some people are going to love just how into character and into the music these five are.

That being said…I suppose I should introduce this cast before I get into the music otherwise you won’t know what the heck I’m talking about…

You’ve got Lyric up front on lead vocals – Stone on the keys – oD on guitars – The Phantom on bass – Styxx on drums…everyone got that? Hmmm…well…hang in there for now…they all deserve some credit in here at some point and I’m sure by the time I’m done here today you’ll know which of these characters are doing what. Took me awhile too if it’s any consolation!

But if anything, it’s certainly an indication of commitment. These players are fully-absorbed into and rocking through this new material, already booking shows and promoting the living-hell out of their brand-new self-titled EP. And with good reason; there’s a lot of strong material and writing on this debut and considering how long they’ve been together for, creating and building this material…well, they’ve come out of the gate pretty strong for the first time out.

So…let’s start this up shall we?

“Feel Your Ache” opens up the record with short bursts of sound from the keys of Stone & dead-silence that’ll make you question whether or not someone’s messing with your volume knob at first…it’s unique, interesting…and it got me interested in what was about to happen next immediately. Coming out storming, oD’s crunchy guitars take over strongly along with the precision of Styxx and The Phantom holding down the fort and driving the melody. Lyric does a great job with sweet-tones contrasting against the darker-sides of the music and sex’n it up in the verse with an overall sound that comes out close to where Garbage left off when they were still a good band. When the song hits its funk’d & crunched-out chorus the energy comes out great in the music and vocals, I might have wanted a little more ‘rock’ out of Lyric in that final line of the chorus. The sweet tones of the chorus fading out into the bridge & breakdown of this opener work well, but I think towards the end finding that extra ‘Ann Wilson gear’ might have paid off to slightly raise the sound of the vocals into the energy of the music. All that being said, her tones are bang-on, the harmonies come through in a classic-style and the song overall is pretty much built on hook upon hook upon hook. Good start!

“Jesus Junkie” starts out incredibly strong with great drums from Styxx and keys from Stone, then smoothly adding the rhythmic tones of The Phantom and well-placed guitars of oD to provide a perfect canvas for the vocals of Lyric. Delivery-wise here, she’s come out much like a vintage Shirley Manson in sound & style and overall this is a great melody here from these five.

…and that being said, the next time ANY of you out there reach for funky, monkey or junkie in the same set of lyrics, just know that I’m punching walls out there somewhere as I listen… I swear… HEAD is getting a pass here solely based on the exceptional performance in this melody and innovation within the music of this song, which is pulled off extremely well by all five. Had they not put in such a convincing performance here, I might have very well sought to crucify this “Jesus Junkie.” Great dark melody in this track and the contrasting sweet-tones of the vocals make for an odd kind-of lullaby over a broken-crib, if your baby is in to that kind of thing… Loving the guitars of oD combining with the keys of Stone; they’ve come up with some dynamic ideas together here throughout this tune.

“Save Me” definitely finds that groove with big synth-sounds driving this one in spectacular breaks between verses, more incredible guitars from oD and a solid rolling beat that rises and falls with the pulse of the melody. It’s the darker-side of pop/rock with a hard electro-edge to the rhythm, definitely catchy as all hell for sure. The trade-off vocals work well towards the end of the track with exceptional harmonies and the final raw-cracks in Lyric’s vocals making for a wickedly-realized ending. It’s a big song for sure…but then…it seems as if Head is building their name on big, giant sounds…

It gets a little tougher in this next one for me. “Darkness,” is like listening to two really great songs…though how they came together to become one song I’m still not quite sure. Two definite contrasts in sound from the verse and chorus, both great parts really. I love the dark atmosphere of the opening and verse of the song…I think they’ve nailed it here. Drums from Styxx and additional key elements from Stone really open this up well, but it’s that switch into the sticky-sweet chorus that might come out a little on the jarring-side of the stereo. The drift back into the verse from the chorus actually works really well, so to me, this would be one damn confusing one to have written and have to examine when making an album. Peanut butter and jelly are great on their own; they don’t always have to be made into one single sandwich…but thinking about how well it slides back into the verse, I don’t know what else could be done! You kinda gotta go with it, know what I mean? And I think in that sense, I would side with HEAD on this one…there are too many goods happening here throughout “Darkness” that it certainly isn’t a track you could leave behind.

“Hyprocrite,” sees the band spread out in all kinds of directions and push on the boundaries of rock, hard-funk and pop-music as they stop & start throughout this edgy melody. Although rock is at the root of their sound, HEAD definitely has a dramatic and theatrical element that runs deep within the atmosphere of their songs and EP, one that’s fully exposed here on the complexity of “Hypocrite.” Great vocals come shining through a sparkling vocal flow that has all the rhythm you could ask for delivered with confidence and bright tones. It’s another extreme blend of sound, influence and experience here on this song…I think this one has the most potential to grab attention quickly, but also keep it over time as the song structure and ideas that run throughout give you a lot of captivating musical-goodness to listen to.

Ending the EP on a very strong performance, “Sickness” sees the more of the rock-side of HEAD turn it up a couple more degrees to close-out their debut. The pounding opening breaks way to a guitar-driven verse which plays out almost like a slower version of “Brain Stew” by Green Day with similar chords and style, but that pulse & rhythm work extremely well, let’s all just admit it. And it does here for HEAD and sounds great through their style and amplifiers. The chorus is simplified lyrically and it works excellently to create a swirling, sort of hypnotic and enveloping sound as it builds upon itself. Some great ideas in the actual sounds of the vocals from Lyric here as well, subtle effects make this one stand out slightly from the rest and add a perfect spark to what she’s singing on “Sickness.”

Definitely a strong start for this band of precision-musicians; HEAD is making music that other people aren’t in many ways, with challenging combinations that draw you in to listen. Convincing in their conviction and skill all the way throughout the six songs that make up their self-titled debut EP; it’s dynamic music that’s sure to create a buzz and move some bodies to the floor quickly with its dark rhythmic pulse.

Find out more about them from their official page at: http://headmusic.ca

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