Forming in 2014 Pawn Takes Queen is a four-piece band comprised of Christina Kidd (vocals), Chris Gasloli (guitar), Evan Paris (bass) and Michael Kasomeno (drums) that recently released What I Know.
The band plays pretty broad and straightforward alternative rock. After giving What I Know a couple of listens I was having a hard finding much of a distinct sound. The band seems perfectly content feeding the tropes we have heard countless times before. There is nothing inherently wrong but this approach but usually leaves a band stranded in a sea of mediocrity with thousands of other bands.
The band opens with “Break the Mold.” I had high hopes, as the guitar riff was inventive and original. To my surprise the guitarist throws the riff away and replaces the rest of the song with power chord progressions. The song sounds somewhere between Avril Lavigne like teen angst and Paramore. Around the two-minute mark the guitarist shows some more skill but is also quite short lived.
Kidd has a unique vocal style. Sometimes it sounds as if she is almost talking. She is also quite dynamic. She sings, “I know that all you want is favor (Does that mean self-respect is done for?) / Take a break and make a change / We’re not all the same / Don’t play their games”.
“Remedy and Poison” is well delivered but also lacks any surprises and experimenting outside of what you expect. The next track “Through the Rain” could be a pop song ready for radio while “Lifeline” hits the same wave as some of the prior tracks. A personal favorite was “Soliloquy.” The band is a bit heavier on this song and could fall into a pop-punk category.
Pawn Takes Queen has the right ingredients but it doesn’t feel like they have the x-factor at this point. The songs are easy to enjoy but also probably easy to forget because you have heard versions of this style so many times before. I was wish them luck and I would say the best advice they could get at this point is that they should get out of their comfort zone.
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