LET’S FOCUS FIRST on the positive aspects of Ontario, Canada’s alt-rock combo, Bad Reed. The beacon here is the voice of Sydney Solazzo, which demonstrates the ability to slide from a smiling seductiveness to a more edgy, pointed but still very musical attitude. That’s your highlight right there.
However, the talented Sydney (who is also the keyboard player) is a classic example of a singer that could benefit from a different band behind her.
As it stands the band sounds dated and as relevant as a ‘90s UK neo prog group who don’t know if they want to be Soundgarden or Styx. There’s no crime in that, it’s just what can happen when the right combination of players has yet to be found, as if some strangers were jamming and not really enjoying it because they’re from different backgrounds and have conflicting ideas.
As a result the music lacks direction – direction in intent and also production direction. The drum sound especially needs a makeover and lacks vitality and punch.
Of the three songs on this EP the first, ‘Punch It’, is the superior and has had the most work put into it. The guitar work is melodic and the chords have enough tension to make things interesting. Touches like the filtered drums at the two-minute mark help top things off and show promise, but the ending snubs all that’s gone before and begs to be developed beyond the practice room.
The opening la-la vocal line (accompanied by whistling) of ‘Slackjaw Romance’ leaves me non-plussed, and we descend even further to the first-draft-like lyric, ‘All I need is a little love and affection, my sanity, All I want is a pack of cigarettes and a bottle to knock back’. But suddenly at 1:05 Sydney brings out her edgy voice for a whole verse, which is quite surprising, really lifts things up and is something you could base virtually an entire repertoire around. But then it’s gone, not to return.
Lastly, ‘Cassava’ is let down by guitar tuning issues and an ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ sudden cutoff ending which is merely lacklustre. Some real quality control would’ve helped this EP hugely and I’m not certain it’s market-ready in its current condition. Ongoing, the band just needs reigning in and good help from the right quarters to tighten their product, like all serious bands deserve. PETER KEARNS
Music = 2.5/5