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 Independent Spotlight review, I’ll be delving into The Notionaries, an alternative rock band from the midwest who recently released ‘Excited Eyes,’ their new single. They aren’t unsigned like most of the artists here, however, they’re signed to Brickhouse Music Group, an indie label. Let’s check out ‘Excited Eyes.’
Immediately ‘Excited Eyes’ is filled with musical adrenaline, pushing forward a heavy bass beat accompanied with an electrifying guitar riff and droning atmospheric synthesizers. The drums are incredibly heavy on the track as well, but it’s all mixed together well. The lead vocalist holds his own amidst a soundscape of solid musicians. The song even employs some good old fashioned hand clapping which gives it a nice retro-pop aura reminiscent of a Nick Lowe track or the like.
There’s a short solo section pumping up a final chorus, both of which are splendid. The chorus is catchy and fun, though in turn creates a superficial space lyrically, but that’s to be expected with this sort of track. The Notionaries fall into a sub-genre of rock I call ‘summer pop-rock.’ It’s perfect music for a ride down a beautiful highway on a summer night.
There’s something about the music that does feel stereotypical, though. This sound has been employed by artists like Of Monsters and Men and Imagine Dragons. The explosive nature of it demands your attention and constructs wonderfully catchy choruses with lots of group clapping. There’s nothing wrong with that, but The Notionaries are in the shallower pool of lyrical and instrumental depth.
I wouldn’t categorize The Notionaries as an alternative group based on this track. That seems to be the genre independent bands default to when they can’t decide where they lie. These guys align more closely with pop-rock. Summer pop-rock is a genre that scares me a bit as a musical critic, because it has exceptional ties to music like the Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen. Each generation has their own incarnation of the genre. Unfortunately, songs like ‘Excited Eyes’ don’t hold the weight of something like ‘God Only Knows’ or ‘Born to Run.’
It’s a great and catchy tune certainly worth downloading for your workout playlist. If you’re looking for something with a bit more diversity or depth, you may want to skip out on The Notionaries. However, when you consider how well they do align with a modernized, youthful crowd’s music taste... they could very well be in for the long haul.
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