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The Vinyl Kicks – Ambitions Don’t Age Well

Vinyl Kicks EP Review

The Vinyl Kicks came out with their first EP less than a year ago and fans will be happy to hear that a new release is on the horizon. Their first EP, Almost Young, established The Vinyl Kicks as a band and is still experiencing growing success. However, where Almost Young was good, the band’s upcoming EP, Ambitions Don’t Age Well is great. Listeners will be pleased to hear growth in the band lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally.

The quintet is comprised of Adam Cohen on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Justin Andrews on bass and backup vocals, Hope Finlayson on keys, Sean Acosta on lead guitar, and Jason Davis on drums and backup vocals. A band with so many elements is not easy to manage but the Florida natives, all under the age of twenty three, have great synchronicity, especially on the upcoming EP.

Instrumentally, the EP sounds somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd, or rather what I imagine Pink Floyd would sound like if they were born forty years later. Similar to Pink Floyd, The Vinyl Kicks are experimental, they’re groovy, but most of all they’re not afraid to be themselves. Where a lot of current bands are afraid of extended instrumental intros, The Vinyl Kicks tip their hat to Pink Floyd and let their intros take their time, building up sweet anticipation and letting each song unfold as it was meant to.

However, it’s not fair to only compare The Vinyl Kicks to Pink Floyd instrumentally, because they also sound like a lot of other things. At times the EP sounds a lot more like The Strokes than Pink Floyd, yet at other times it can best be compared to The Killers. The band has fused new and old really well on the upcoming EP. They remind me of bands from forty years ago, while simultaneously sounding like current bands. The band seems to have used forty years’ worth of albums as their textbooks and it’s clear they’ve been studying because Ambitions Don’t Age Well sounds like a collection of the best parts of indie rock over the last half decade.

The vocals on the EP are just as good as the instrumentals and I love them for the same reason that I love the instrumentals. They are what they are, and while they may take notes from some of the big names that came before them, at the end of it all they put their own spin on everything they do. At times, the vocals remind me a little of Pink Floyd, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon. Yet, to be honest the vocals on the EP don’t sound enough like the vocals from any of the aforementioned artists to be directly compared to alone. After I listened to the EP for days trying to figure out just who the vocals remind me of, I finally came to the conclusion that while The Vinyl Kicks sound a little like a lot of things, they really only sound like the Vinyl Kicks and their upcoming album is proof of this.

If you didn’t know that Adam Cohen, the lead vocalist had a hand in writing the lyrics, you’d figure it out just by listening to him sing. He has one of those voices that is emotionally in sync with each song and its lyrics. While Cohen has a cool, silky voice through most of the songs, there are parts of the album, like the chorus on “Broaden the Odds,” where he showcases a more raspy tone as he breaks into a yell. This works great for the EP, it’s just one of the subtleties that sets The Vinyl Kicks apart from other bands with a similar sound.

Lyrically, the EP is very poetic. It’s full of songs that show instead of telling. By that I mean that instead of coming right out and saying what they mean, The Vinyl Kicks paint the listener a picture and let the listener feel how they feel. One of my favorite lines is found at the beginning of “Broaden the Odds,” “slow she goes, slow she goes, tie me up some tangled souls.” Lines like this abound throughout the EP and paint abstract art in the listener’s mind. Ambitions Don’t Age Well features powerful enough lyrics that each song could be read in a monotone voice at a poetry event and it would still go over well.

All in all, The Vinyl Kicks have created something truly great on Ambitions Don’t Age Well. Everything about the EP just works – it’s everything their last EP was but better. Whether you’re a fan of the indie rock classics or the genre’s modern day hits, you’ll love Ambitions Don’t Age Well. Do yourself a favor and pick it up when it’s released on iTunes, May 15th of this year; you won’t be disappointed.

Joey Farese

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Hunters pack the house in Jacksonville!


Hunters Live in Jacksonville - Credit: Leon Jonjock
Hunters Live in Jacksonville – Credit: Leon Jonjock

Hunters Packs the House in Jacksonville!

Last week, we had a chance to check out a very hip Indie Rock band called Hunters based out of Brooklyn, New York and touring in support of their new EP. I got the assignment to review and photograph the up and coming punk rockers while they were touring through Jacksonville. The location was Jack Rabbits, a downtown club, on a very hot muggy day. It was apparent that sweat was guaranteed tonight.

I arrived a few minutes early to set up, and the band soon followed in two vans, unloaded everything and went next door for a quick dinner before the show. The manager of Jack Rabbits was also the engineer of the soundboard, and was in great spirits, very excited about this particular show.

After the two opening bands, Queen Beef and Hank and Cupcakes had finished their high energy sets, the lights went out, and Hunters took the stage. The crowd was packed like sardines in this cool little Jacksonville club but despite the heat no one cared. They were all fired up and ready to see this energetic quartet, and you could tell right away that dancing was definitely gonna be happening this night!

We could instantly tell that this band was the real deal, as the crowd instantly came alive when they played their first song. The music was cool enough to keep everyone engaged and listening for the entire set, unlike some other bands that burn out after a couple songs.

The on-stage fog machine filled the concert hall cranking out cool air to the crowd, while covering the stage with a slick mist. The band’s talented lead singer, Isabel Almieda was instantly recognized by her luscious pink hair the moment she took the stage. She displayed a very smooth voice, and was a hit to everyone who watched her dance across the stage. She was joined by her primary collaborator Derek Watson, a hot shot lead guitarist with cool spiked hair.

This Brooklyn Indie rockers played a smart set, with three fast-paced songs right off the bat, to the delight of the crowd. Isabel was in complete control of the timing of the band and she had the crowd in the palm of her hand; at any moment, she had us in a frenzy, other times she slowed the pace, and the entire time, displaying her wonderful voice that connected to everybody in the room.

It wasn’t long before fans of the opening bands were captivated by her voice and they were quickly in the mix dancing to the beats of Hunters! The band played for 50 minutes and had everyone sweating for more.

Watson played his guitar like a seasoned pro and was a great entertainer, even playing upside down with his feet in the air at one point. The fast-paced finger work for this type of music isn’t easy for most guitarists, but he handled the show with grace, never himself to override his partners in the band and staying in perfect sync with the structure of the songs. Bassist Tommy played every solid note, without cheating the songs with sloppy work providing a cool vibe for everyone which was a pleasant relief from the doom and gloom bands that scream at you.

Hunters Live in Jacksonville - Credit: Leon Jonjock
Hunters Live in Jacksonville – Credit: Leon Jonjock

All the songs were handpicked by the band, and when record labels allow you to have that control it almost guarantees a better sound and show. The songs were presented in a way that brought attention to every song – great catchy hooks that kept everyone in attendance dancing. They finished their set to a very happy crowd and the fans were very excited when the band came out to hang with them after the show.

We reporters had a chance to talk to the band backstage, as they were heading for Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and other big time towns.

We got our photo’s taken with the band,  a nice wrap to a great night of rock at a place called Jack Rabbits – where the locals and the newbies go to rock!

This band is on my “TO SEE AGAIN LIST, and we’ll be back again when “Hunters” returns to town.

Thanks to “Hunters” management team, record label, and band members for a great show, and we can’t wait for the new album in 2014!  And Jack Rabbits of Jacksonville for always and for many years, putting North Florida on the map as the place to see cool Indie bands!

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Until then, stay cool !

Happy Jack
92.1fm
Jacksonville
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