Queens New York quartet BOCA hasn’t been on the scene long, though they’ve already established their sound and NYC presence, having played such stately venues as the Knitting Factory, Webster Hall and Blackthorn 51. The five tracks on their debut EP Monster find the band experimenting with influences of jazz, pop and indie rock, though the band’s punk sensibilities is what make them shine.
Monster opens with the raunchy “Bulls Eye” and sets the tone for the four tracks that follow. It features a nice drum guitar breakdown during which front woman Jackie Acosta’s spoken word style vocals echo like they are being spoken in an empty room, and then, without warning the room fills up with Acosta’s screams as her band roars behind her.
The jazzy “Mind or Soul” showcases the band’s range, as well as how beautiful Acosta’s vocals can be as they ring out, with a ghostly tinge of reverb, it floats through the song seeming to bounce off the jazzy drums and guitar and then ends just as quietly as it begins.
“Was I Even There” presents a lull in the album. It sounds like something a Top 40 pop princess would have picked for a single. Later into the song, Acosta begins to sing a few bars in Spanish and then the song seems to pick up trying to build to something, though sadly it never does. It is oddly out of place on the album as a whole and seems perhaps added as an afterthought, a rookie mistake.
“Monster” features some of the EP’s grittiest guitar work and also its prettiest as guitarist Wilson Riano changes course from dirty finger picking opening riffs that later lead to ones which recall the ear sweltering squeals of early Santana. The drums and bass fade in and out, and the track is mostly lead by Acosta’s vocals and Riano’s rocking riffs, though it gives off an awesome rock aura when they all come in together for the chorus.
The final tune “Gimmie Gimmie” opens with bluesy guitar riffs, punchy drums and policecop siren samples. Here Acosta does her best Karen O impression and leads the listener on a raucous and raunchy ride as the song builds into an epic of anger infused with pure punk rock riffs that make it one of the best songs on the album and also the most fun track to listen to.
All in all Monster is a handsome first effort for a band that hasn’t been on the scene for very long. Though if the band wants to set itself apart doing away with the balladry and keeping with the punk effect would most likely serve them better. Although from a concert-goer’s standpoint, the best time to leave the show to get another beer is during the ballads. Maybe that’s exactly what Boca had in mind.
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