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 edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Room 24, a young rock outfit hailing from Austin, Texas. Their latest studio endeavor is an EP entitled ‘Interweave,’ which is scheduled to be due out September 10. They’ve provided me early access to the six new songs, however, so let’s delve into them! Are they worth adding to your collection of indie music? Let’s find out.
Room 24 has members that age from fifteen to seventeen years old. They gig around Austin and the music and lyrics are written by two brothers, Andy Cooper, who performs lead vocals and guitar, and Michael Cooper, who also performs lead vocals as well as drums. They're also joined by James Caton on bass. I get bands like this across my desk about once a week. Young, ambitious acts that managed to get into the studio (or built a makeshift one) and record a couple tracks. More often than not, they’re nothing to write home about. Bands at this age are learning the basics of collaboration and composition and typically don’t produce notably excellent work. Room 24, though, is further along than you’d think.
Room 24’s sound is probably most aptly described as alternative garage rock. Its tone is much more alternative, but its wall-of-sound musical style is more akin to garage rock. In the introduction to the EP, ‘Digital Shouts,’ the sonic landscape is overflowing with intensity. It’s impossible to really discern what instruments are playing what… it’s an accidental Phil Spector-esque effect. Thus, it works in the band’s favor, and ‘Digital Shouts’ is a bombastic opening that’s layered impressively for such a young band - and a trio, at that.
‘Only’ gets a lot dirtier than its predecessor, introducing some harsher musical elements. The guitar sections seem to be inspired partially by metal guitar, and they definitely erupt in a cacophonous fashion. The production of ‘Only’ feels too warm, however, and there isn’t much variety within the timbre of the track. Everything feels to reverberated, too bassy, and too muddled. This is a production issue that does arise on the regular throughout ‘Interweave.’
‘Shapes And Shadows’ is one of the better songs on the EP. It’s a track that gives the vocals and the lyrics some room to breathe in the softer parts of the tune. It’s there when you’re able to digest the lyrical content better. ‘Righteous,’ which then follows, is the opposite - it’s in your face the whole time. I appreciate when Room 24 allows each element of their artistry to shine - part of that process is not stifling the lyrical content on the record.
The final two tracks, ‘Influenced’ and ‘Interweave And Disguise’ offer an intriguing dichotomy. The former is a bit messy and uninviting. The latter, however, is by far the most exceptional song on the EP. (Seconded by ‘Shapes And Shadows.) The production is much better on ‘Interweave And Disguise’ and each part of the mix is highlighted in a more powerful way. This makes for quite an epic finale, too.
Room 24 is better than the vast majority of bands their age. Honestly, they’re probably better than a good chunk of bands twice their age. There are some issues. The songs all sound fairly similar, the production is far too muddy, and songs like ‘Influenced’ just don’t fit the right puzzle pieces together. Songs like ‘Shapes And Shadows,’ ‘Interweave And Disguise,’ and even to an extent, ‘Digital Shouts,’ offer wonderful glimpses of excellence. I bet these guys are better live than they are in the studio. (If they’re not self-recording, which I think they may be.) At their age, there’s only one way to go from here: up. They’re worth keeping tabs on.