The Printer Convention – Volume One / “Green Light” – EP + Single Review
Not a bad deal at all. Apparently smoking a whole bunch of cigarettes will eventually lead you into a great band one day…the Surgeon General can go off and sit’n’spin on it after everything I’ve read about how The Printer Convention came to be the band they are now. Legend has it that Nic & Adam were just hangin,’ smoking,’ and shootin’ the shit – and then just up & decided to do this thang. Just like that people! Don’t go tellin’ me your sob stories about how long it took you to get your band together – apparently you just WILL IT to happen, and it does, just like that, easy-peasy – just ask Nic & Adam!
Ultimately that decision at least gave them a great head-start; Adam would take on bass duties and Nic the keys. Soon enough, they picked up Taylor on drums & Daniel on guitar to complete the lineup. I’m guessing of course, but given they seem so chilled-out, I imagine the meeting went something like this:
Adam & Nic: “Hey, so like, would you two other fine gentlemen feel like being in a musical ensemble?”
Daniel & Taylor: “Splendid idea chaps – why didn’t we think of that? Off to the studio we shall go!”
And so it was. Maybe not quite exactly like that…but maybe close! And once the four of them got rolling along, the music clearly began to flow rapidly; they’d put out their debut record, the Volume One EP in 2016 with singer Caitlin Burnett lending her talents to the band via the microphone & her stunning voice. Taylor also sings from what I’m hearing & what I’m gathering in my research here – but you’ll also notice that in 2018, they’ve made a switch with the addition of singer Claudia Appaduray taking over the backing vocal duties on their brand-new single “Green Light.” I also get from the spirit, sound, and attitude in this band’s approach to music, that there could very well be an unbreakable set of four at The Printer Convention’s core…but that the occasional guest-star might just be something you want to get yourself used to.
All these fun details…these credits…the fact that I’ve got an EP +1 additional tune here…I tell ya, it brings a former liner-notes addict right back to the heyday of his own nostalgia, that’s what it does. Takes me right back to the days of the ‘Japanese Import’ and paying $49.99 for a CD instead of a simple $9.99 or $19.99 in most scenarios, and usually for less songs…but RARE…oh so freakin’ RARE! So in honor of that feeling, I’ve noticed that they’ve got two official lineups out there right now for their original EP – one has “Mango” at the beginning, the other has “Cowards And Warriors” instead. I’m going with what I think is the unofficial listing, with “Mango” at the start to celebrate that old-school feeling of finding new treasure in my speakers & I’m gonna pretend that I’ve got this incredible band all to myself.
Even though I think “Cowards And Warriors” is the official first tune on the Volume One EP – on MY version of the record, “Mango” starts them off with great energy and allows the record to expand & evolve by having what might be their greatest song come right afterwards. What I like about having “Mango” at the beginning, aside from the catchiness immediately on display throughout the vibe & energy of their opening tune, is that it also introduces you to that one constant in the music of The Printer Convention, which is Taylor’s vocal sound; he might not always take the lead on all of the tunes to follow, but he’s always a part of their songs on the microphone. I also think that it’s kind of interesting in the sense that, he’s clearly a great singer with great tone – they could have chosen to just rely on him for the vocals of the band, yet they’ve chosen to collaborate with others and see what else can be found in their music as a result. It’s smart moves like this that will not just open doors for The Printer Convention, but continually make things unique & interesting for themselves as musicians too. I like the immediately inviting sounds of the melody on the keys from Nic, I think the bass from Adam fills in the atmosphere perfectly, and Taylor has a ton of excellent technique & tone on display through the charismatic & charming way he starts to sing this song. Add-in the brilliant guitars from Daniel and the clever percussion from the same dude singin’ “Mango” and you’ve got a tune that puts out a welcoming vibe instantly – but one that’s got the depth to retain those that listen. The rhythm & flow of this structure comes out with a ton of hooks from the music to the microphone, but the structure of the song itself is just as engaging – a real case of not just what’s being played, but how they’re playin’ it. To me, “Mango” absolutely sounds like the beginnings and early stages of something really special brewing.
If you observe the credits closely from the first EP, you’ll notice that Taylor and Caitlin share the same last name. If you observe with your own freakin’ ears – you’ll also notice that they’re both remarkable singers too – so I’m thinking…call me crazy, but there’s gotta be a tie-in between them somewhere or one massively cool coincidence goin’ on. I’ll fully admit, in listening to “Cowards And Warriors” – I don’t think you could ask a thing more from the amazingly inspired performance Caitlin puts in on the microphone; the writing is absolutely fantastic to begin with – but it’s those incredible vocals she’s got that really bring this tune to its full potential. Mind you…the keys from Nic are spot-on and make this melody magical – and the guitars from Daniel are right up there in the list of ingredients that have The Printer Convention sounding like an entire band full of true veterans of the music-scene that have been playing together far longer than they actually have been. Which, for the record, is somewhere around 2013; it’s only three years-in to the band’s career at this point when this EP gets released – their debut record – and they’ve already created what’s essentially a bulletproof, award-worthy tune for the performances and writing on “Cowards And Warriors” as far as my ears are concerned. Love, love, LOVE this song – I really think they’ve written something so stunning and so well thought-out that it sets the standard for what we’ll want from The Printer Convention…or at least, that we’ll always hope to find when we listen to their music in the future. It’s not just a good tune – it’s one of those real time-stopping moments where you really realize just how much magic this band really has & how captivating they can truly be. I honestly couldn’t take my ears off this song…I think Caitlin is absolutely spellbinding in the way she sings this tune – and when you hear the complexity in the lyricism, I think you’ll find it’s even more impressive that it all comes out sounding as smoothly as it does. No joke though – a song like this confirms that The Printer Convention does indeed, have everything required to make that pin-drop moment in a live show happen; this is that song that everyone stops to watch & listen to…because it truly is exquisite on every level. Love those guitars from Daniel around the 3:20 mark and the way they sound together as a band as the song builds up powerfully to its final moments, right before breaking down into the sweet exit provided by Nic’s gorgeous melody on the keys at the very end.
Any song would have had a difficult time coming after “Cowards And Warriors” – it’s just that much of an amazing tune, it really is. “Fearless Love” is still a decent tune, but there’s no doubt that it’s slightly overshadowed by the two previous songs when it comes to the degree of accessibility by comparison. Taylor takes over the lead, Caitlin joins him in a duet – they sound great together and there are definitely zero issues when it comes to the vocals you’ll find being used in The Printer Convention. Think of “Fearless Love” more of like a restless folk-tune of sorts…one that’s right on the edge or Pop or Soul even, but nearly fighting that full swing towards its own tendencies. So there’s a bit of a push/pull factor on this tune that sounds more like this track was painstakingly put together as opposed to flowing out as naturally smooth as some of these other tunes do. No shame in that game – we all write songs in the same way, the results between us are often quite similar and even some of the best songs you’ll find out there were pieced together bit by bit as opposed to being organically grown or the results of a jam. My gut tells me it’s a tougher tempo & pace to jump out & grab people right away, but I think you can still hear the sincerity & heart that they play “Fearless Love” with…which over time, is the kind of vibe that people seek out more specifically, in times where they really need to hear a tune like this and the soothing sound it carries at its core. Really dig what Taylor’s doing with the subtle percussion in the atmosphere of this tune, I think the backup vocals from Caitlin are strong support and complement his vocals with additional dynamics of their own breaking through powerfully, gracefully, & sweetly; what it might have less of in radio-friendliness it makes up for completely in artistic merit & beautiful intentions.
I’d probably argue that the Volume One EP is a bit like 2 A-sides & 2 B-sides in terms of widespread accessibility…I think both “Mango” and “Cowards And Warriors” stand a great chance of catching the people’s attention & rightly so. As far as “Fearless Love” and “Your Symphony” goes – they’re probably more likely to catch the ears of the songwriters & musicians out there as opposed to the everyday listener. Like, on “Your Symphony,” I think you get a great taste of the inventive, innovative, and talented musicianship that the band possesses…you end this record on a genuine highlight from bass-player Adam and more excellent guitar-work from Daniel scorching it up with killer tones. But you’ll hear in the dynamics & movement of this tune that it’s…well…let’s just say it’s not exactly something you could easily dance to, hence, less accessible for the people overall. Hate to say it, but that’s generally the criteria of what creates that separation…but it’s again, usually the same determining factor that will get their peers listening with greater intent to hear the mechanics of how a song like “Your Symphony” works. Just like how this whole story of the band began, “Your Symphony” starts with the lighting of a cigarette…what’s up with you guys over there in Australia anyhow? You know there’s weed right? Anyhow…I suppose that’s a side-note. I’ve only ever smoked a cigarette one time in my entire life and that’s because I’ve only ever once heard a convincing argument as to why I should; I get smoking weed – that makes perfect sense to me…cigarettes were tougher until I met a guy named Paul who trained me on a graveyard shift at a gas station, many, many moons ago.
He said, “So…do you drink, do you smoke, do drugs, what?” in the first five minutes I had met him.
“I smoke a bit of the green,” I said, reducing my statistics dramatically for employment purposes.
“No cigarettes?” he said, while taking a drag from one outside where we were standing.
“Nope,” I said, “I never got the point.”
“Yeah but…” he got ultra-serious all of a sudden…”haven’t you thought about all those sweet, sweet chemicals you’re missing out on?” and proceeded to virtually inhale the rest of his smoke.
“Good point,” I said. “Pass that on over here.” And there it was, my one and only. What can I say? His honesty & enthusiasm appealed to me. Everyone else I ever knew would always tell me to ‘never start’ while sucking down half a pack in front of me…like, c’mon. Be proud of it like Paul. That’s where I’m at.
Sorry…got off track there. “Your Symphony” has an artistic design that’ll definitely appeal to a bunch of people out there with its tender vibe and sweet intentions…it’s that same quality that’ll likely stop this from being a candidate for a single…or, that is, would have back in 2016…but I think there’s just as much of an audience out there for songs that are looking to be a bit more than your average experience in Pop. Overall, it’s got a consistently pleasant sound, impressive & ambitious musicianship & creativity goin’ on – and the kind of dynamics that ears will notice; I have no doubt that a song like “Your Symphony” demands a bit more from the attention span of listeners out there, but it’s worth the time.
“Green Light” is a decent comeback for the band in 2018 – a light-funk jam that’s got their signature smoothness and friendly atmosphere working the magic in the hooks once again. In many ways, there’s an argument to be made that this is their most single-worthy tune to-date…I think it’s more accessible than “Mango,” and ultimately, probably more cheerful in sound than the emotionally powerful experience of “Cowards And Warriors” – which will help this song branch-out even further to a wider audience. That being said…there’s something else here on this new tune that shows up that I was less sure about…I’m just not entirely sure of what that is. It could be the professional level of control they have on the sound of “Green Light” – or it could be the sound of taking more care in a cautionary way, trying not to color too far outside of the lines in an effort to keep it tight. As a result, it IS tight, there’s no doubt about that…but it’s almost missing a bit of that energy and looseness that comes with a funk-style vibe…that flashiness that would come with hooks as strong as these could potentially be. The musicianship & writing on “Green Light” were what stole the show for me again…I think that it’s a great song…it just might need a pair of jumper cables to get that full spark it deserves or a live setting to bring out that magic we know they can bring to this with the passion they possess. Bottom line though, is that “Green Light” is still an impressive amount of fun & good times…the bass is exceptional once again, drums are crisp, guitars are killer, Taylor sounds smooth up-front on the mic and Claudia supports strongly in the backing vocals – idea-wise, I think there’s no doubt that The Printer Convention can certainly write songs that connect. The more they keep up their efforts, rise to their ambitions, and embrace the talents that they clearly have – the more they BELIEVE that they really DO have this all nailed down as well as I really think they do, trust me, the stronger this band will continue to become over time. I’m stoked on what I’ve heard from this band so far from their Volume One EP & brand-new single “Green Light” – and I feel like they’ve given us all a ton of reasons to look forward to hearing whatever might come next from The Printer Convention.
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