CD Review: Ravishers “self-titled”

Posted: April 8, 2013 in Music
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Take one frontman who sings and plays keyboards and match him up with another musician who used to play jazz guitar, match them up with a drummer to add the backbone to the music and you have the core to the Portland-based band Ravishers. Frontman Dominic Castillo and guitarist Jonathan Barker are joined by drummer Nathan Szytel and several others to complete the music for the band.

Together, the resulting group known as Ravishers is a musical outfit that features a sound that alternates between guitar-driven and piano-driven. That guitar/piano mix from the band is found on their various releases. Having already put out one EP entitled Singles for Singles, the band has returned with a new self-titled release.

The self-titled release from Ravishers begins with the track “I’m Him”. The track begins with just a light piano and drums before the guitar joins in. The track finally builds to include the bass about a minute in and from then on, the band creates a pop-driven feel to the music that features both guitar and piano equally. The classic line-up of piano, guitar, bass and drums of the track gives the album a great rock feel.

While “I’m Him” has a pop-rock feel using the combination of piano, bass and drums, the band’s second track of “You Have It” has more of a sparse feel to the music as the same piano, bass and drums are used to create a much more simplistic feel to the music. In fact, at times, the music consists of only piano and drums. At other times, the entire combination of piano, bass and drums as well as guitar come together to create the music in the track. And even though Castillo, Barker and Szytel create a much looser feel to the music on this track there is definitely no energy loss to the rock music. In fact, “You Have It” seems to have a much more commercial feel to it than the previous track.

With the next track of “The Chase,” the band creates a song that features an alternating feel to the energy level of the music. At times, the song has a pop-like feel to the music while at other times; the band lets the music’s energy take control of the pace of the song. The resulting track allows the piano, guitar and bass shine as Castillo sings about enjoying the give and take of a relationship. With this song, you can almost imagine the song being released as a single to be played on your local Alternative Rock radio station.

Perhaps the most commercial track on the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Cruel Love”. The lyrics of the track seem to be perfect to follow the previous track of “The Chase”. With a musical combination that finds the piano, guitar, bass and drums of the band coming together in almost equal parts, “Cruel Love” features a much stronger rock feel to the music than the previous song while still having the same lyrical connection. “Cruel Love” is probably the first time on the album where you will find yourself singing along with the song.

Another track on the self-titled release from Ravishers that has a strong rock feel is the song “Underachievers”. This is a track that seems to have Castillo and Barker working together to create a song that doesn’t feature the piano or the guitar more than the other. The seemingly flawless blending of the two instruments helps to give the track a lot of depth. The track features one of the best lines in rock to come along in years: “It’s nowhere or bust.” That little hint of humor give the track even more character.

Probably the best-known track off of the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Keep You Around”. In fact, the song was actually created at the time that the band was known as Dominic Castillo and the Rock Savants. “Keep You Around” has one of the best beats of any track off the release and could easily become a fan favorite. Although the rest of the album features the band sticking strictly to creating their songs using the members of the band, this track finds stepping outside of the usual quartet setting by bringing in an additional singer. It is Kelly Mesigat who lends her voice to the track as she and Dominic Castillo create a duet of sorts as the two sing of being lonely if they ever said goodbye to each other. Not really the most romantic of concepts, “Keep You Around” could be considered an Anti-love song.

The track “Nobody Falls in Love Anymore” is one track that really brings the piano to the forefront of the music. The piano-based song features a slightly different feeling than the rest of the tracks on the album as it features a horn section. The sad feeling of the music and lyrics also separate the track from the rest of the music on the album as the rest of the release is much more upbeat.

“Happening” brings the album to a close. The track is one song that really allows former jazz guitarist Jonathan Barker to show off his skills as a rock guitarist. The guitar from Barker makes the track feel like an all-out rock song….while the song still keeps enough pop feeling to it to not feel out of place with the rest of the release.

From the first track of the self-titled album from Ravishers, the listener gets to experience a band that has a lot of depth to their writing. Because of the piano/guitar base for the band’s sound, the album transitions nicely from one style of music to the next. And with the two different approaches to the band’s songwriting being blended into one album, Ravishers has a sound that many will find to be appealing.

Click HERE for the video to “Keep You Around”.

The previous review is for an album that came out in 2010. Another writer for The Rock and Roll Report, Katherine Miller-Rowan, had created an article for the band at the same time I was going to and I didn’t want to end up with another article on the website. However, I recently discovered the article by Katherine Miller-Rowan was actually an interview of the band and not a review of their album. This review is to make good on my promise to review the album.

As both Dominic Castillo and Jonathan Barker are professional musicians, they have other projects they are currently working on. Both Castillo and Barker have since moved on from Ravishers.

Click HERE for the band’s PR Firm, In Music We Trust PR.

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