Roy Catlin & The Dudes – Was It Life? – EP Review
Excellent pop/indie melodies and rhythms on the latest EP from Roy Catlin & The Dudes! A fantastically bright way to start up the official month of summer – these are sweet tunes that are honestly quite easy to fall in love with very quickly. I’ve made it no secret just how much I can jump right into a great melody – and whaddya know, here I am surrounded by three new ones that line the walls of the Was It Life? EP. No complaints here – this was just the kind of inspiring sound I wanted to put out there for you all this morning…you’re gonna love this too, I’ve got no doubt about it.
Though I’ll admit…as a music reviewer, the opening line of “Be mindful of the words you say, they might come back to haunt you someday” kinda makes a guy a little nervous when trying to type out his thoughts! I spew out opinions on all kinds of stuff daily…and now I feel like the words of Roy Catlin are going to have me checking the skies like an old-school cartoon waiting for the anvil to drop out of the sky…but I suppose I’ll just have to take my chances. All I can do is be the me I know how to be, for better or for worse…so bring on “The Future!”
And reflecting on life, love and the passion that drives us all as time pushes us forward whether we’d like it to or not – Roy Catlin & The Dudes come bursting out of the gate with insightful lyrics and a contagiously-beautiful melody instantly with “The Future.” Over the course of the three tunes – I couldn’t find anything that didn’t grab my attention – but it’s impossible not to feel the quick hold this first track takes on a soul. “The Future” is full of relatable feelings and emotions…or at least, it certainly is to me personally. Roy and the two dudes that make up the rest of the band – Michael Kinney on drums and Joel Tophoj on the bass – take this melody to extraordinary places as it kicks-in; it starts incredibly strongly, and it ends even stronger. Roy himself nearly sounds like a pop-version of Brian Molko from Placebo, and writing in a style of bright, crisp & clear melody that you’d expect more from Pete Yorn – and that resulting combination of sound might seem a little strange on paper, but I can tell you firsthand it certainly works to my ears. The ending of “The Future” is absolutely spot-on awesomeness…this entire track just builds and builds with the anticipation/trepidation of “The Future” until they break free of every chain holding them back and let the song burst right open in-full. It’s a very memorable opening tune…and a very addicting one – as much as I enjoyed the two tracks to follow it up, much of me still believes this could very well be the EP’s strongest track from this band based out of Denver, Colorado. I’ve got no issues whatsoever with putting your best foot forward on a set of three songs – you want that impact to be immediately established – and this band of three makes that happen instantaneously on “The Future.”
The next track, “Pawn” kind of heads more closely towards the terrain of Dashboard Confessional and the introspective way that Chris Carrabba writes his music…the lyricism is sharp and definitely reflects the spiral we can all get lost in at times. Whatever your medication of choice might me, whether it’s tv, coffee, booze or the harder stuff – we can all get stuck in the grind of our daily life just looking for something to help us ease the pain of our surroundings…and I think that “Pawn” deals with a lot of those feelings. Really solid & innovative beat to this track, provided by the exceptional drum-rhythms of Kinney keeps this track moving along in perfect time. The guitar-work from Roy is like half-Dashboard & half-Explosions In the Sky…and he sings this one like he’s trying to reclaim his very soul. A fantastic turn on the mic from featured guest-star Big Koast, who spells out the intentions of the lyrics of Catlin via a solid rap-verse…there’s a lot to like about this track and this emcee is certainly one of those reasons. The entire tune is like a giant open-wound of self-realization and attempting to outrun the clock…like Roy is narrating the importance of finding our way before we lose our grip entirely. Excellent honest & real emotions in “Pawn” that make for a very realistic experience that will hit home with a great many people out there through both its music and lyrics.
Bringing all the concepts and ideas together on the final track, the title-tune of “Was It Life?” – Roy Catlin & The Dudes take the energy back up from the melancholy of “Pawn” and continue to question the path they’re on. A serious look at what living life really means to us all, what it means to them and a bold reminder that one way or the other, we’ll find our way. Great grind between the bass, guitars and drums on this final track…reminded me a lot of Minus The Bear in spots with the exception that Catlin is much more expressive in the vocal-department. But those guitars! Man! They sparkle and shine in this cut and are very reminiscent of the way that Minus The Bear captures their tones on recordings…excellent stuff from Catlin here. Great vocals…they sound layered, but that only adds strength to their music overall, and definitely a technique that works very well for this band’s sound.
And as bleak as some of the themes might seem to you at first…some of the real strength that speaks to the depth of the lyrics and ideas in this band is the fact that Roy Catlin & The Dudes never seem to ever give up hope along the way. They’ve made us think about who we are, how we relate to each other…and what our lives are really all about through these three songs – I think they’ve done a seriously great job of bringing these concepts to light on the Was It Life? EP.
Find out more about Roy Catlin & The Dudes at their official page: http://www.roycatlinmusic.com/