Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this edition of Independent Spotlight, we take a look at a young band just getting their feet off of the ground in Southern California. The band classifies themselves as ‘alternative reggae,’ and their new EP has landed, titled ‘Roses for the the Reckless.’ Let’s take a good look into the five song collection:
Give You the World: The first track of Sono Vero’s EP is upbeat, well-produced, and catchy. It’s lyrically stereotypical as the singer tells his girl that he wants to give her the world… over and over. That’s alright, though, because this style of songwriting isn’t designed to be introspective or emotionally moving: it’s a catchy radio hit. In that regard, Sono Vero succeeds, and ‘Give You the World’ sounds like a perfect summer radio jam, entirely at home wafting in and out of boardshops and ice cream parlors.
Leave with You: The song begins as a hip-hop, rap-influenced number, but quickly evolves into that carefree So-Cal sound that introduced the record. The lead singer of Sono Vero is a very slick vocalist, something that is very important in this genre. The rap performance is equally as important, however, since it gives the listener a reprieve from the sing-along content to delve a bit deeper into the emotions of the depicted night. It gives the sound a more real, even grittier appeal since the production is a bit fluffy at times.
Back And Forth: This track features two guests: Rico of Ease Up and Moi of Tomorrows Bad Seeds. In honesty, you can’t really discern the difference between the vocalists; they all sound pretty similar to the main vocalist. This song echoes early California rock with synchronized harmonies. Those harmonies can’t help but draw an inspirational line straight to Brian Wilson.
End of Forever: This song has the most intriguing instrumentation, introducing itself with a nice little acoustic riff. This song is a bit deeper, focusing on eternal love, and it’s actually endearing, not cheesy. It may be the highlight of the record with it’s minimalistic production and beautiful acoustic guitar. This is the kind of track that has the girls falling over the band in the crowd and will evitably be performed poorly by college guys at parties. Move over, ‘Wonderwall.’
Never Say Goodbye: This particular track has received quite a bit of play on the radio, and the band considers it their first hit. It’s a nice little song, but feels a bit too much like ‘Give You the World’ and ‘Leave with You.’ Again, the harmonies are top notch, and drive home the Californian good vibrations.
So… the band is talented. The production is clean and polished, the performances are strong and the vocalist doesn’t miss a beat. With that said, it feels contrived at points. It feels like Sublime. It really, really feels like Sublime. It feels even more like Sublime when Rome entered the group in recent years. When you enter a small, almost niche genre like the California pop/hip-hop/reggae scene, you have to be careful. It’s too easy to sound like other acts, especially prominent ones like Sublime. The act needs to breathe fresh air into to the sound, creating a new space for itself. Sono Vero is struggling to do that. Regardless, their sound is quite good, and worth checking out if you’re into that kind of music. It may not be something you haven’t heard before, though.
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