As you are no doubt aware, when somebody asks me to listen to music they’ve made, I consider it my solemn duty to listen to it (it’s the polite thing to do). So listen I did.
I’ve typed a few responses to the songs, and they’re a bit further down in this post.
However, looking back over what I’ve typed below I can see that my comments may look a bit harsh (and unnecessary), especially on the vocalists. Because of this, I’d like to offer the blindingly obvious disclaimer:
My comments reflect only my responses to the music. They’re simply what I thought of it, nothing more. I’m not going to lay claim to be any kind of expert reviewer. (I don’t even call myself a reviewer. I just listen to the music and talk about my reactions to what I heard.)
Update (April 10): After letting the band know about this post, I’ve was informed by band member Jeremy (Hi, Jeremy!) who told me that Soundcloud had posted the mini-album’s songs in reverse order on the band’s SoundCloud page, where I’d nicked the code for the tracks to put here. In reverse order. (As I said to Jeremy: “Grrr”.)
So the track listing is actually the opposite of what you see below.
Nevertheless, I’m going to leave what I typed as it is (unless I spot some typos – or really bad grammar), and implore you to take what you read with as many grains of salt as you can, knowing full well that the last track is actually the first track, the fifth track is actually the second track etc.
The Allrightniks – Nothing’s What It Seems (2013)
1. “What It Seems“
My first thought was “50s – nice”. But then as the song progressed I thought “70s – nice”.
I don’t know if it’s because I have faulty ears (Hello, tinnitus!), but I heard something droning all the way through the song. It’s not very loud, but I heard it constantly. It’s not the acoustic guitar’s low D note, because that resonates and dies away, whereas the quiet drone I heard was always there. Weird.
The good news for me is that I didn’t hear that drone in any other song on the album.
2. “Nobody Knows But Me“
Enjoyable-ish, but the drums sound underpowered to me. And I’m afraid I’m not keen on those vocals. (The double-tracking really doesn’t help there.)
On the plus side, I liked the middle eight (1:43-2:10).
On the neither positive nor negative side (it’s more a “Huh?” side), there was an odd little vocal interjection at the end of the middle eight leading into the guitar solo. It happens at 2:10, and I’m not sure what that vocal was supposed to signify.
I liked the guitar solo (2:10-2:37).
Overall, though, I like the song (apart from the vocals).
I also liked how it ended. I won’t spoil the surprise if you haven’t heard it yet. but I thought it was an unusual and lovely way to end the song.
3. “The Fighting“
Oh-oh. With this third song, there’s a pattern emerging.
Unfortunately, the pattern is this: I like the songs, but I don’t like the singing. The playing’s fine, the melodies are fine, it’s just the singing itself that bothers me.
The singing in the first verse (0:14-0:42) is insecure, but the instrumental backing is fine. Likewise in the first chorus (0:44-0:58), which continues the vocal iffy-ness (the main vocal is sharp – and I don’t mean well-dressed).
However, and I do want to stress this, the singing in the second verse (0:59-1:53) is much better (apart from the sharp notes at 1:11 and 1:40).
I’m fully aware that, because I’m a dreadful singer (I really am dreadful), I’m not in much of a position to criticise or carp about someone’s singing, especially when theirs is better than mine.
As with the previous song, I liked this guitar solo too (2:36-3:08). And I liked the little bossa nova drum beat in the first eight bars of the guitar solo (2:36-2:50).
Overall, though, despite my reservations about the singing, this is my favourite of the first three songs.
And now for the next three…
4. “So Glad“
I like this. The combination of the bass guitar and those acoustic guitars reminds me of early Doobie Brothers. (Note to self: listen to The Best Of The Doobie Brothers again as soon as you’ve finished listening to The Allrightniks’ EP.) And the guitar’s banjo rolls at the end of the solo (1:42-1:46) instantly reminded me of the end of Christie’s “Yellow River”.
I liked this song a lot.
5. “Down To Me“
And back to the mid-tempo rockers.
I’m very pleased to say that the singing is much, much better in this song. It’s not all that confident or secure, but it suits the looseness of the song beautifully.
From 0:41-1:12 is the first appearance of the background vocals. That part of the song, for me, is like being in a darkened room and opening a window to let in a burst of sunlight. (I could listen to that section of the song on repeat for the duration of the album.)
It sounds to me that, given the way everyone is playing and singing, the band is very proud of this one.
6. “No Words“
Unfortunately, the title of this song reminded me of one of my favourite Paul McCartney songs:
I love that song.
Where was I?
Oops. I’m supposed to be listening to The Allrightniks – not reminiscing about a glorious Paul McCartney song.
Alright. The Allrightniks.
When this started I thought “Hmm – anaemic-sounding drums again” but then the rest of the band came in and conveniently covered up any deficiencies in the sound of the drums.
The more I listened to this song the more I liked it. The singing’s still a little dodgy (but nowhere near as dodgy as in the first three songs), but I think the song itself – and the playing on it – is mighty fine. When I’m listening to it I hear a traditionally constructed pop song that I enjoy listening to very much.
More of this please.
Summing up, m’lord:
I liked the second half of the album more than the first.
Thanks, Allrightniks, for letting me know about the second half of your mini-album.