Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Broken Past release “Some Gave All”

Broken Past may play much different music, but they are looking to join the same roster of high quality popular music talent emerging from New Jersey since the mid-20 th century. Their metal and hard rock chops are second to none, the result of innate skill and touring as much as possible since their 2015 formation. Their single “Some Gave All” from the EP Time for Change shows how far the four piece band has traveled since first hitting the scene and hints at even greater glories to come. It has an undeniable message, not a typical one however, and lead vocalist Frank Acee communicates his heartache and appreciation for the sacrifices of those who served the United States in a way you cannot ignore. His voice matches up nicely with the instruments and arrangement alike and he has the rare skill for singers in this style to deliver a credible vocal in more than just a single range.

They pluck their sound from a basketful of varied influences. Broken Past cite Bret Michaels, AC/DC, Overkill, and Black Sabbath, along with some other incongruous matches, as their musical touchstones and the impressive thing is you can, indeed, hear touches reminiscent of those artists. It is further impressive those influences are detectable without compromising the unique nature of Broken Past’s feel for the style. They are not imitators; they play, write, and perform with their own twist on time-tested styles. It makes the listening experience all the more enjoyable. 

They opt for a more extended approach regarding song length. There’s a hint, just a sliver, of progressive metal running through this track. You can hear it in the band’s willingness to tackle potentially thorny tempo changes and their ability to demonstrate their playing gifts without ever sounding ostentatious. The track boasts commercial edges, but its near six and a half minute duration precludes it finding much favor on radio due without a judicious editing job.  

 I love the way this band understands the value of light and shadow in their music. The alternating sections of this track fit in lockstep with one another and Broken Past moves in and out of the transitions without straying off path. Guitarist Wayne White leads the way to these ears as he moves between outright juggernaut riffing and artful atmospherics with equal skill. It’s a fantastic all-around performance from a band nowhere near the peak of their powers. Adding a great video just rounds things off. The music video revolves around three central motifs – funeral clips full of aging veterans honoring their dead comrades, folding flags, war footage from over the last century, and footage of the band playing the song for viewers. It is, in some respects, a classic music video, but the addition of the war footage makes it stand out more than it otherwise might. 

Some Gave All” is a heated and intense musical tribute to the fallen who fought for our beliefs and throbs with meaning. If this single is your introduction to Broken Past, you couldn’t meet them in a better way.

Scottie Carlito

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Paul Mark & The Van Dorens test "Gravity"

NYC-based Paul Mark & The Van Dorens test the Gravity of the situation on this great new LP, with songs about everything from thoughts of the day to thoughts of yesterday. Gravity is an album that floats any boat down the stream of the unknown while it takes the scenic route to get there and has tons of fun on the way, along with some heartfelt sentiments. These musicians are not only good but they’re as fun as they are serious, especially the featured man up front, Paul Mark himself. And not being familiar with him, the great thing is he has a vast back catalog to delve into from here. 

 Gravity runs prolific, and it runs in a succession of songs that fit the title which is about losing ground and going with the rocky flow. The artist reminds me of various songwriters of the past who mixed a bit of comedy with a serious songwriting approach, not unlike Warren Zevon and others. “Gravity Is Failing” begins the album with some tongue in check lyrics that challenge feeling well grounded. It’s very cool and contains some excellent violin. This might be the best track on the LP, but that can also vary the more I hear it. The lovely piano playing of Paul Mark dominates most of the songs and comes on heavy as “Forever” takes you away and it’s only “I Spin When You Grin” that can change the mood. And change the mood it does, and if I had to call a second favorite track it would be this one, as it goes very well with the opener. And that means all-the more to come must be worth sticking around for, so I did and “The Next Fight” is what I got. 

Another marvelous song with everything that’s good about this band. “Coronation” stands out to be a token instrumental and a very commanding studio performance by all. Hat’s off to another top shelf effort serving as a highlight in the Gravity of the situation. “Con Man VIP” is next and could get some attention or not for the subject matter but either way it’s out forever and will be heard. But the mood changes all the way up on “Friend Gone Astray” but you can add it to the amount of world class ballads on the album and they’re all really soulful and gritty to the max. 

“You Can Take It With You” is where more comedy come into the lyrical picture but it’s all very lighthearted where needed and more heavy handed in the right places. The point is there either way you slice it. “OTB” is the track I listen to the least, so far, and it still has something I am sure that will ultimately click. But things pick back up with a respectable cover of the classic Yardbirds song “Heart Full Of Soul” which is faithful to the original but not without the stamp of Paul Mark as it leads out the last couple of song on what is a brilliant 2020 release. 

 Scottie Carlito