by Chris Nunley
When an album comes into my possession for consideration of a review, I give it a series of “endurance” tests.
The first is probably the most critical…the highway test. If I can’t even tolerate it in my car, then it doesn’t see the light of day on my home stereo. Instead, it’s chucked out the window to shatter in glorious iridescent fashion like Mark Ruffalo trying to find the next great artist…”GET THE FUCK OUTTA MY CAR!”
In the case of Broken Hearts And Shattered Glass, the debut release from Phoenix quintet, The Redemptions, the CD hasn’t even left my car. No broken hearts or shattered anything will be found here. This is just good music, plain and simple.
From the first run through, the formula gels between the band members and their respective choice of instrumentation. Anthony Fama plays the role of rockabilly crooner and lead guitarist, while bassist Paul Balazs lays down groovy bass lines in tandem. Add in a trio of percussionists with Spencer Ferrarin, Woodworks alum Konstantin Bosch and Solo Lounsbury, and you’ve got yourself a gang bonded with Gorilla glue. The combination of this stellar cast along with infectious harmonies and a myriad of percussive textures really make this release stand out and pop.
The opening track “Stay” is a warm cup of Joe with a little cream and sugar for flavor, sure to brighten up anybody having a case of the Moan-days. Not wanting to sing the catchy chorus “I’m hoping that you’ll ask me to stay” over and over will prove to be a legit challenge for anyone.
Slowing things down with sprinkles of empty water tank percussion and bright tinkering bells is the endearing “There With You”. The harmonies on this track are perfectly balanced between three men and a lady, while Fama pleads his yearning for a better half that he may’ve lost.
“Walls” keeps things on a simple down-low, building tension with haunting “oohs” and “aahs” underneath a rockier guitar, punishing drums and desperate lyrics. “Seventeen” is probably my favorite song on the album, oozing with house party energy and a clever FX track added sparsely for an effective ambience.
“Secret” sounds like a hyper experiment in the limitations of tape saturation, but brilliantly goes crystal clear at the bridge with Lounsbury’s warm “whoas” weaving in and out of the subtly repeated “You run-run-run-run…run so far far away.”
Final verdict, this is a solid five-course meal of an EP, complete with all the fixin’s to put you in a musical coma. Heck, even the multi-colored “threat level” cover art adds a nice touch. A tip of the cap goes to Ari Leopold for recording and production duties as well. 😉 I’m expecting great things (and potentially a full-length, hint hint) from Fama & Co. in the future.
The cd is available for purchase at both Stinkweeds and Revolver Records in Tempe.
Preview Broken Hearts and Shattered Glass by The Redemptions below. For more info, head to the ‘Book.