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Damon Mitchell

Elise

Review by Gary Hill

This set is probably best described as alternative rock. There is quite a range within that heading as presented here, though. We get jazzy sounds, things that call to mind The Beatles, nods to The Band, bluegrass and more. It generally has a bit of an awkward edge, mostly due to the vocals. Most of the time that lends a certain charm and eccentricity, but it does get in the way here and there. Still, this is a quirky and enjoyable release that doesn't lack variety at all.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Heist
Piano start this off, and the cut becomes a bouncy kind of pop rock song. As the arrangement fills out and the vocals join, I'm reminded of The Beatles to a large degree. This is a lot of fun. The backing vocals are perhaps a bit closer to The Beach Boys. While the number is thoroughly based in retro leanings, it still has a real modern edge at the same time.
Just A Face
Organ lends a real retro tone to this. It's a much slower cut. It has more of a modern alternative pop vibe. Yet, at the same time I'm reminded just a tiny bit of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" at a few points here. While I like this one, it's quirkier than the opener, and perhaps a bit less effective.
License Plate
This is a big change. It's energetic and fun, like the others. It's also retro tinged. The thing is, this lands more in line with the modern roots music movement. It has a lot of bluegrass built into it. Sure, it's still delivered with an alternative pop edge, but this has a plenty of old-school stuff at its musical core. There is a bit of a quirky edge to this that could feel awkward, but is more charming than anything else.
Salo
Now, this cut is a very meaty and more rock based thing. Yet there is plenty of jazz in the mix on the number. I dig the guitar work on it. The whole thing, again, has an awkward edge that lends a certain unique charm. The lyrics quote The Band. The music at times makes me think of Dire Straits a bit.
World In Her Eyes
This number is jazzy and has some quite awkward moments in terms of the vocal performance. I like the horn, and the general groove, but the tune is a bit too out there for me.
Elise
I love the guitar solo and the fills in this cut. The number is more of a real rocker. It still has plenty of retro rock built into it. That awkwardness lends more of a charm this time around. This is one of the strongest cuts here, making it a solid choice for both closing number and title track.
 
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