You’ve probably heard before that musicians are often fans of music themselves. Having come from a musical past myself, there were several acts that I followed faithfully during my career, but I found that the fan in me continued to diminish as I became consumed by my own music.
As the initial mystery and brilliance of music started to fizzle out in my life, my critical side emerged. Musical clichés started to bore me, music without melody frustrated me, and unless I came across something particularly unique or within my narrow confines of interests, it got filtered out pretty quickly.
Gallons to Ounces
Having recently shifted my focus over to becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur and online marketer, my perspective has also moved from inward to outward. Instead of seeing social media merely as a marketing outlet, I now see it as a tool to connect with others, learn more about the world (especially the music industry), and explore new music. That’s how I came across Gallons to Ounces’ Half and Half EP.
There is no denying that the CD artwork is both intriguing and beautiful. It looks polished and professional while preserving some mystery about the music within. If I had seen the artwork without hearing a single note, I would have assumed that I was about to hear vastly layered electronic beats or a collection of New Age instrumentals.
There are no extensive liner notes or lyric sheets here; just a simple glossy CD slip, but for an EP it will more than suffice.
Half and Half
This five-track EP kicks off with “Half and Half”, a retro Funk instrumental that would not be out-of-place in the 60s. I am reminded of the Beastie Boys‘ Check Your Head album (affiliate link), which featured a handful of Funk instrumentals not unlike the one heard here. The chief difference is that “Half and Half” sounds more practiced and polished compared to the Beastie Boys’ loose jam vibe. Not that either is good or bad, but I like how the Ounces set the stage with a track that really doesn’t resemble the remainder of the EP.
Additionally, any band that artistically pays homage to the Funk genre has got my attention.
The genre for this EP shows up as “Blues” in iTunes, and while I certainly wouldn’t categorize the whole EP as Blues, this track’s Stevie Ray Vaughan influenced guitars and vocals are clearly that of the genre. No predictable chuga-chuga Blues rhythms here; this track is a great listen despite how narrow the genre comes across at times.
Guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist Matt Cummings’ guitar tones are a pleasure to listen to in this track and throughout the whole EP, with just the right amount of crunch and warmth.
It Kills Me
Departing now from the familiar Blues structure to an Alternative R&B or Acid Jazz vibe, “It Kills Me” features vocal melodies not unlike that of Sade Adu or modern vintage R&B artist Ivana Santilli. The scalar guitar melodies are somewhat early Bowie-esque.
The track rises and falls through some dissonant riffs, reaching its melodic height in the guitar solo.
So far this EP has shifted, somewhat dramatically, through different styles. Blues, Soul, Funk, Jazz and R&B are all rooted in similar foundations, but to this point Half and Half has taken the listener on a bit of a scenic route voyage.
“Deep” is perhaps the first track that stylistically matches another song on this collection, namely “It Kills Me”. Less dissonant than its counterpart, but similar in structure and vibe.
Dare I make the comparison, the first thing I think of when I hear this song is U2‘s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. This mid-tempo number flows from eighth-note Rock rhythms in the verse and an explosive chorus to R&B style wah guitar interludes. The vocal melodies are hooky and memorable.
It’s somewhat hard to believe that the sounds on this EP come from a power trio. Undoubtedly there was some tracking done on this production, but Half and Half still encourages listeners to dig a little deeper and listen for the layers rather than consume a couple of times and be done with.
The tight arrangements demand a little more attention and present more of a challenge to the Pop-trained ear. Still very listenable and very enjoyable, but nevertheless thematically retro.
At times the Ounces do wear their influences on their sleeves, but this musical unit keeps you on your toes and has you wondering what’s coming next. Half and Half does a great job of whetting your appetite for a future full-length release.