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 evening’s Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be digging into the music of Robin B. Czar, an indie artist who just released an extensive album and is now touring across the UK. His ten track album, titled ‘Mission Bizarre,’ is an eclectic rock and roll effort that pulls from an array of influences when crafting its own original sound. To give some context to the album, let’s learn a bit about it and B. Czar.
‘Mission Bizarre’ took B. Czar over a year to record. With eighteen months in the studio, his blood, sweat, and tears went into this effort. He’s a performer that’s become known for his “natural talent and ability to evoke impressively virtuous melodies from nearly every instrument he lays his hands on.” That description is quite apt. ‘Mission Bizarre’ is an accessible, often very catchy effort. Let’s check it out.
The opening tune, ‘Your Descent to Hell’ is incredibly complex. There’s just so much at play here. Power pop rock and roll dominates the sound, but toward the latter half of the tune, something more demonic is at play. Electronic synthesizers and cascading electric guitar riffs bounce off one another with immense tact, thus manifesting into a dramatically compelling, eerie effort. B. Czar’s lyrics and performance are on point: he’s not your traditional vocalist or predictable talent. It’s a bit like if David Bowie and Alice Cooper had a lovechild. He’s got the sensibility and theatrical nature of both, with the latter’s flair for the occult. (Though vocally, I’d argue he’s akin to the Thin White Duke. He even does that studio vocal work where he sings in two different octaves at the same time and mixes them together.)
‘Requiem’ is a dramatic experience, to say the least. With that said, it’s completely enthralling. It grabs you into the sound and its rock and roll is mesmerizing. There’s a bit of a 1980s hard rock metal flair to this music, too, especially in regard to the electric guitar tones. ‘Free,’ one of my favorite tunes on the record, seems to walk the line between dark themes and pop sensibility. The electronic composition of this song is particularly good, as is the vocal choral hook.
‘She Loved Too Much’ may be the defiant highlight of the first half of ‘Mission Bizarre.’ Goodness, this track is excellent. I love B. Czar’s vocal style. It’s raw and dark, yet somehow lighthearted. Lyrically and instrumentally, this song is absolutely top notch. Those choruses are nothing short of superb, and I love the story of the tune. The electronic-tinged ‘Dr. Dog’ has similar qualities. The banter between synthesized and practical instrumentation is the highlight of that tune.
‘Mad Scientist’ has a unique premise, though I’m not sure how well it’s executed. I found the song a bit too chaotic, and with the filter on B. Czar’s vocals, it’s darn near impossible to understand him. Thus, I’d argue it’s one of the weaker efforts on the collection. Fear not, dear listener. It’s followed up by the searing ‘Grief,’ a killer track. The song does meander a bit longer than I’d like, clocking in at nearly six minutes, but the guitar musings are not to be missed.
The eerie ‘Kiss of Death’ is somewhat forgettable due to its predictability. At this point in the record, I felt like I had heard just enough of what ‘Kiss of Death’ boasts. The themes felt recycled, and it’s another weak link on the collection. Again, however, another fantastic tune comes to the rescue. I love ‘Only That One Wish.’ This song is chock-full of personality and deviates enough from B. Czar’s established formula to bring new thrills toward the tail end of the album. In fact, it does so even better than the modest, but not noteworthy finale, ‘Until We Meet Again.’
Right, so let’s find a verdict on this music. I really, really dig what Robin B. Czar is doing. His style is original, exciting, and culminates elements of so much great music into a fresh product. There are two or three tracks that aren’t the strongest, though. At times, it seems like B. Czar gets too comfortable in specific themes and musical styles, and as a result, those two or three stumbles blur together. The highlights and exceptional pieces are more frequent than those blunders, however, and more than make up for them with gusto and passion. Check out B. Czar’s music on his site below.