Sound — 10
I heard Dance! Las Vegas literally today after stumbling accross them on Myspace Music and with a name like Dance! Las Vegas I was expecting a band that sounded like Fall Out Boy, but after hearing the 5 piece I was pleasantly suprised to say the least.
According to the band they fund everything themselves out of collecting money from playing shows and then any money they have to make the records they do at Castlegate Recording Studios with Mike Frankland. Either they get paid a fortune for playing there gigs or Castlegate Studios are the best value for money on the planet because this EP sounds so professional.
I e-mailed the band to find out more and it seems that the 'When In Rome EP' is an EP inside of a larger EP, a 2 track out of a 5 track they called it, with their first real EP coming at the end of the year entitled 'Hide and Seek'.
As soon as their Myspace page loaded up it exploded into the first track on their page 'I Don't Need You Anymore' I knew I was in for a treat.
'I Don't Need You Anymore' launches itself into the chorus straight away after a small drum fill reminiscant of The Beatles track 'She Loves You' before throwing you into a frenzy of big vocals backed up by bigger harmonies, crashing drums, soaring guitars, a pumping bass line and a beautiful synthensizer, you are quite literally being thrown into the deep end straight away with this song.
The song is through and through a big 80's Arena Rock styled song with influences coming from Van Halen's 'Jump' for sure. The 'Jump' influence can be heard by that iconic synthensizer sound aswell as the well written riffs. There seems to be a Journey tint in the song with the way the song is short on the verses but emphasises the choruses alot, making them incredibly catchy.
When the song winds down to the bridge section, which is just like a long instrumental break I suppose it is clear that the band do take big influences from the 80s with the Richie Sambora esque riff here and the way the guitar solo kicks in is something else, a whammy squeal and a divebomb flows into an amazing solo. One of the best guitar solos that I have ever heard and it has come from a 16 year old boy in an unsigned band. The whole band are musically way past their actual ages, the lot of them play far beyond the talents of many bands today and I would personally put them up their with the big bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. Two bands who they cite in their influences.
Their second song 'When In Rome Do What Romans Do' suspicially has nothing to do with Romans, or the phrase itself but winds itself into a big ballad with beautifully orchestrated parts from Mike Frankland and another really big song that sounds like it could be another of their influences songs, this being Evanescance. The band really do clearly outline their influence within every song it would seem.
The song opens up with a Choir Boy, a tinkling of Piano and a really nice Gary Moore styled lead guitar part, which with a nice drum fill turns itself into the first verse. The song is on a large contrast with 'I Don't Need You Anymore', but nevertheless it is still a really good song.
The guitar is hard to hear in the verses sometimes which is disapointing because you can hear that there is a really nice arpeggio playing with a lush phaser sound. The Piano, Percussion and Bass really dominate the verses with vocalist Holly Shahverdi's ghostly vocals fitting in superbly. For a 14 year old she really is something else.
I think the link between the verse and the chorus really is superb, it goes from a clean stratocaster arpeggio to a meaty Gibson styled powerchord build up that really emphasises the change from the slower verse into a big chorus.
When the chorus kicks in the half time feel of the verse disappears and another sort of anthemic sound is provided with 3 part harmonies this time and that big synth sound has returned which really makes a big build up for the chorus.
The solo is very long in this song, I'm not sure wether or not it is actually a bit too long, but nevertheless it is again a really brilliant guitar solo, and should be proud of it. Jamie Donnelly; the lead guitarist, really seems to be able to compose a solo very well and creates a brilliant theme for the solo.
The solo starts off with the rest of the band playing the verse without the vocals of course with Jamie playing a slow theme. It starts off with some well timed bends and slow legato off of them, I think the bends from here are what were at the very begining of the song.
After the bends come some really nice slides, the note choice seems perfect before finishing off the first part of the solo with a Richie Sambora styled rake and bend before whipping into a bluesey second solo over the choruses music. It reminded me a little bit of the 'Sultans of Swing' solo Mark Knopfler plays in regards to the hammer ons and pull offs. It really does come to a nice climax with some David Gilmour styled bends before ending in what sounds like a talkbox sound, either that or some very clever whammy technique.
The second track 'When In Rome Do What Romans Do' didn't stick out to me as much as 'I Don't Need You Anymore' but I was still bobbing my head and tapping my foot to the both of them, so for this they both get a 10 out of 10 vote from me, both beautiful tracks.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrical side of the songs were the only parts that had me feeling only a little disappointed as the lyrics had more potential than the ones that were written. I have still given them a 9 though as they have been written very well in most parts, but with some they are quite a let down.
I particularly like the lyric from 'I Don't Need You Anymore' that goes 'the truth is easy to find, it's what everybody doesn't want to hear', I think that is a brilliant lyric in itself and I also really like the lyric from 'When In Rome Do What Romans Do' that goes 'Like the flowers need the rain, I need you' and then follows up with 'Like the flowers, wither and die, without you', I believe those two lines follow each other very well.
The lyrics fit with the music very well with the rhythmic value of the lyrics to the music going hand in hand and sounding very well. I love the way that vocalist Holly accents some of the words and the way that she hangs onto them at certain lines within the songs, this really seperates her from alot of other singers both unsigned and signed.
I was pleasantly suprises with the three vocalists. When I clicked on the page and saw that they were a female fronted band I expected another Paramore styled 'tribute' band as many female fronted bands are on the local scenes but what I got was something so much better.
Holly has vocals that remind me of Christine Mcvie of Fleetwood Mac, she has a very nice tone in her voice and it sounds slightly folky but with that big operatic styled diaphram support which really seperates her as a very powerful singer.
The other two vocalists Joshua Brodie and Jamie Donnelly compliment each other so well and it's really nice to hear the vocal harmonies being put into songs as many bands neglect harmonies and simply go unison, but this was a very nice touch.
I believe Josh to have the better voice out of the two with a very nicely 'spoken' singing voice, in the way he could whisper it and it would still sound as beautiful, he has a very whispery voice and it is really nice when it comes accross in both tracks, it is heard at its best during the canon section of 'I Don't Need You Anymore' but it comes accross beautifully during the choruses harmonies in 'When In Rome Do What Romans Do'
Jamie seems to have a more growly rock styled voice which does work well within the band but personally I do prefer Josh's singing voice. I believe Jamie has an 80s styled rock voice which fits very well in their style of music, but personally not my prefered. However I do believe that Jamie does the falsetto parts in 'I Don't Need You Anymore', in which case he has an extremely good falsetto.
Overall Impression — 10
I think that the 'When In Rome EP' if split into the individual tracks could weigh up against any band of today as it has such a modern twist on an outdated, cheesey but catchy concept. They have brilliant musicians within the band and considering bass player and drummer Sam Dunning and Paul Vaulks haven't been playing for very long they are excellent at what they do and are very good musicians.
I personally prefer 'I Don't Need You Anymore' over 'When In Rome Do What Romans Do' as it is more upbeat and catchier in my opinion. I'm sure though that when they do the full 'Hide and Seek EP', 'When In Rome Do What Romans Do' will fit nicely amongst the other songs but in this it just seems like theres an upbeat song and a ballad and thats really just it.
I love the musicianship of the band on making this record, I think they should all be really proud of what they have produced and considering that they funded it all themselves its really great to see that its paid off. Every part of the 2 records seems to have been written very carefully right down to every note placement so it's really nice to hear the final, carefully produced result.
I also love the fact that the engineer Mike Frankland has added in his own bits and from what he has added it sounds brilliant, on asking Jamie he told me that Mike is completely self taught and cannot read music. For someone who plays entirely from feel he is outstanding. Castlegate Studios in Norton, England is his studio.
When this is released onto iTunes I will certaintly be buying it, and I'm hoping to get to see them live whenever they come anywhere in the states if they ever do! They are so worth the wait though, I would reccommend anyone to go and see them.
Their Myspace page. Check them out and be as suprised as I was.