Saturday, March 30, 2019

Alex Traynor - "Crazy World" EP Review!!

It's now time for our 117th monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and for the first time since 2012, we're looking at a Sault Michigan-area album not released by SweetKenny, namely Kinross/Mount Pleasant solo hard rock artist (and Banned frontman) Alex Traynor's debut EP "Crazy World"! Independently released on March 1st, this EP was recorded in Mount Pleasant last fall, and based on available online materials, it looks like Alex recorded all instruments on the included songs. The 5 song EP can be bought for $10 in physical copies at this link, or online for around $5 on iTunes and Amazon, while you can also stream the whole thing on Spotify, Alex's website, Soundcloud, and on this auto-created YouTube channel, though consider buying it to support his work! I can't immediately confirm if CD copies are on sale locally at Crooked Music or elsewhere. Featuring 5 songs running for about 21 minutes in length, let's begin this review with it's opener, the title track!

The first single and shortest song on the EP, "Crazy World" surprisingly opens with a techno-influenced rock sound that is more reminiscent of industrial rock than the modern electronic rock. Alex still gets time to shine on guitar, and his vocals are sung with a purpose, almost like this intended to be a live concert sing-along anthem. His singing hits some solid high notes on the second verse, and the beat works well, but the song feels very unfinished, like a bridge and chorus were dropped in favour of an early fade-out. The song is a mixed bag, but it showcases Alex's musical diversity while it lasts!

The second single, and longest track is "Jack O'Lantern", and whether intentional or not, this song feels heavily inspired by Avenged Sevenfold. As it's own song, it's a stronger number overall than the opener, showcasing Alex's heavier influences and full musical abilities nicely. His vocals have a nice grit to them, the Halloween-inspired lyrics are complimented well, and the chorus has catchy qualities! I just wish the constant percussion "dinging" was somewhat toned down, and his bridge screams could have been a little louder, but the song is a definite highlight on "Crazy World"! Third is "What Everything Is Like (High Life)", which is a softer number that is heavily driven by Alex's singing compared to the actual music. I stop short of calling this a "ballad", but it's definitely a melodic number with seemingly personal lyrics, with a very steady marching quality throughout. Interesting contrast here, and a good showcase, but I think it could have had heavier instrumentation.

Fourth is "Life Is Made Of Lies", which is a return to heavy form with a steady chugging guitar riff, though it really doesn't pick up until Alex rams up his vocals from their first verse's deeper style. As a guitar and bass showcase, this delivers the goods, especially with two solid guitar solos, and he hits some strong aggressive vocal notes as things progress. As it's own original composition, this may be my favourite song on "Crazy World", but the abrupt ending did catch me off guard. The EP closes with "Send My Soul Away", curiously opting to close with the softest and most reserved track, only featuring vocals & acoustic guitar. Nicely composed and performed, Alex keeps his singing on the right trajectory to suit the mood, and he delivered some nice emotion throughout. I imagine this would work really well at his solo concerts, and it's definitely worth a listen if you like acoustic ballads!

So, what are my final thoughts on Alex's debut EP? Overall, it's a solid debut release that showcase his musical diversity and songwriting skills pretty well, and there's a little something for everyone on this! Myself, I preferred "Life Is Made of Lies" for it's heavy and catchy qualities, though "Jack O'Lantern" is well done also (especially for A7X fans), and all 5 songs have their plusses. Having covered Alex on the site since his adolescence and Banned's early run, I've seen him grow as a musician, and it's great to see his multi-instrumental abilities and singing improve to the point where he can release a solo EP of this level and diversity! There are things I'd work on though, like how two songs ended too abruptly (especially the title track), and I think there was more room to show off his guitar soloing than what we got. I also felt that "What Everything Is Like" could have been heavier without throwing off the actual vocals

It would have been interesting to hear early Banned originals like "Plaid Girl" or "Cocaine Riot"  too, but for a debut effort, Alex delivered the goods, and it'll be interesting to hear more from him in the future! Pick up or stream "Crazy World" at the above links, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review! As of right now, I do not know what album we'll be looking at next month, but look for our next "Where Are The New Albums?" post on Tuesday and/or our April concert schedule for ideas as to what could be next! Ideally, it'll be a new album again, but will our streak break? Stay tuned for details, and for more news and notes soon! Thanks everyone!

No comments: