On and Off the Record
Releases by Doubt Aplomb, Easy Bear and Lyric James
By VCR Staff 03/20/2014
Cory Soto is the driving force behind Ventura’s Doubt Aplomb. The band’s latest project, Earnest Goodbye, is not so much a peek into his head; but all of it laid bare for everyone to hear. It might be easy to dismiss this band at first listen. The production sounds very raw and Soto’s vocals are unpolished and pitchy. The group’s music belies its members’ age and ability, though they also display an impressive fearlessness. Doubt Aplomb has some great ideas and arrangements, and members don’t let silly questions like “Can we actually do this?” stop them from recording. That’s to be commended. The opening track, “Nothing More,” shows some texture and nuance with an extended intro, while “Band of Posers” has a good rhythm and unrestrained vocals. Curtis James’ violin is used to great effect, often cutting through the mix to complement his bandmates. “Nothing Left to Write” is probably the best all-around song on the album, although it’s the most restrained and straightforward. Doubt Aplomb’s vision is clear, and while its reach most certainly exceeds its grasp this time around, it shows enough flashes to be worthy of following.
— CJ Marshall
Earnest Goodbye is available at doubtaplomb.bandcamp.com.
Easy Bear EP
A little-known English quartet once sang “All You Need Is Love.” Joey Enthoven (guitar / lead vocals), Noah Donelly (bass) and Matt Lopez (drums) of Easy Bear have made this their mantra. Easy Bear EP is cute, short and sweet — probably much like the anonymous object of their affections. “Give Me Your Love” is shades of Weezer, with enough guitar and low-end punch to let you know these guys rock when they want to. “Stole My Heart” leans more toward the indie / pop side and has a sing along quality. “My Girl” and “Run Virginia Run” follow the same aesthetic. “Already Mine” is a standout track with a silvery tone that would sound right at home on the radio or a soundtrack. Easy Bear EP is a confident, polished rock-pop release. There’s a big sound coming from this trio of musicians — recorded in a bedroom, no less. The five tracks clock in at just under 15 minutes total and they go down smooth and easy. The songs are earnest and heartfelt, teetering on the edge of sappiness but never jumping to their deaths. They’re not singing to get the girl, because they already have her. They just want to let her know they love her and to make her smile.
— CJ Marshall
Easy Bear EP available at www.easybearmusic.com. You can also follow Easy Bear on Spotify.
According to Walt Whitman, “Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.” Well, Lyric James’ most recent release is one of the most soulsatisfying records of recent memory. With songs of pain, love, loss and Cadillacs, it’s got a hip-hop attitude with some hot-buttered soul melted on top — quite possibly the sound R. Kelly was looking for. Lyric James has managed to skillfully blend Willie Hutch’s passionate approach, Stevie Wonder’s delicate touch and Usher’s smooth delivery, creating some utterly beautiful music. From a production standpoint, the album is very well done and a delight to listen to. With its emphasis on matters of faith, recovery and hopefulness, the struggle for better tomorrows oozes from James’ conversational melodies and inspirational lyrics. Heavy as it is, though, the record provides a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere. Personally, I vibed with this album pretty strongly, and that’s somewhat rare in the rather redundant scene of contemporary R&B. An outstanding record that has the potential to be huge, The Truth is original, diggable and easy to connect with. If the opening track, “We Go’n Fly,” doesn’t hook you, the title track will. And once you’re hooked, you’ll have this record in heavy rotation for some time. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
— Bennett CornellAvailable on iTunes and reverbnation.com/lyricjames.