Toronto, Ontario’s five-piece Anderson Hall formed in the middle of last year. The band is fronted by eighteen-year-old lead singer and bassist Quinton Barnes who co-writes a majority of the songs with lead guitarist Braydon Johnson. The band had no real ambitions toward recording an album until February of this year when they decided to make an album in accordance with the February Album Writing Month challenge.
The band spent a furious two weeks recording and decided to use the best tracks out of everything they came up with, citing artists such as The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and ABBA as inspirations during their recordings. What transpired from these recordings are the 11 songs, which make up the band’s debut Only Sons and Thumb.
Barne’s Prince-styled falsetto vocals coupled with the ‘80s synth rock and club ready beats help to make the opening tune “Attracted” a fun way to open the album. “(It Goes) on and On” with its sad peels of organ sounds similar to Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” and its bluesy psychedelic guitar riffs is certainly where the band sounds best.
The balmy balladry of “How Can I Believe” is a hard sell for the band after its two solid predecessors. This is followed by the blatantly obvious Beatles rip-off “Lady Tuckett.” But Anderson Hall get back on course again with the bouncy and melodic instrumental “Fall in Love Again,” which marries strings to a bright pop melody. Then comes “Mama” with its beautiful and catchy female backing vocals, which appear again this time matching Barne’s falsetto in the uppity piano vs. guitar tune “Come On (I Got It)” which is another feather in the band’s cap. The band explores a bit of psych-jazz on the instrumental “Jameson and the Red Blue Skies” and then closes with sadness and strings on “The Saddest Prayer.”
For a band as young as Anderson Hall are, they possess a lot of talent. But being an artist at a young age one also struggles with knowing what to cut out, in sense to make something stronger. The case here is that Only Sons and Thumb, taken as a whole, would flow better with a few less songs, mostly those that stray from the pack. The hardest part about making art is casting one’s own cold eye upon it and not settling for what is simply good enough. But this comes with time.
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