The Proxys is a solo project conducted by sole member Shafa Shaban who is based out of Montreal, Canada. Shaban has just released a new EP that he mixed, mastered, and recorded himself titled Powdered Gold that pulls from a lot of different genres of music such as prog, alternative rock and ‘90s grunge. It is mainly guitar and vocally oriented with plenty of effects for the whole family.
It is pretty evident that The Proxys pulls strong influence from the likes of Radiohead and company, as the songs all have that spacey, introspective feel that comes across as if it supposed to make its listeners think. When listening to Powdered Gold, you can certainly tell that Shaban relies on an abundance of layering, as most of the songs consist of a generous amount of parts, especially for a one-person project. With this being said, I think that the layering certainly serves its purpose, though, as the type of music that Shaban is making depends on the atmosphere of the music to set the mood and define the tone of the songs, and the only way to properly execute that would be the continual layering upon layering of parts, putting them in the background, and then doing the same thing all over again for the lead lines as well.
The EP begins eponymously with the song “Powdered Gold,” which is an interesting blend of groovy alt-rock with some middle-eastern flair. I felt that this song could have been significantly strengthened with a stronger and more emotional vocal delivery. The guitars throughout the song reek with heavy emotion, however I feel that the vocals did not quite catch up in that regard. Although there were clearly some shared elements, this song is pretty different from the rest of the EP, as it relies less on the heavy layering of guitars and more on the ambient atmosphere it creates. I just feel like this song was missing something - the emotional backbone of the song was there, but the corresponding parts that filled in the gaps did not necessarily match the impassioned aura that the song was trying to demonstrate.
Moving on to the second track titled “Hopeful,” it is obvious that all of the missing parts from song one came together in this song (woohoo!). This track sounded like something from Bloc Party’s catalogue. Interestingly enough, it begins with an ‘80s sounding dance beat, however the accompanying guitar and vocals instantly switched that playful mood to a dark yet hopeful (seems appropriate, doesn’t it?) vibe. I’m really impressed with the amount of restraint that this song contains; it in no ways seems urgent, however the heaviness of the song was conveyed well with nothing lacking or missing. I especially enjoyed the breakdown in the middle of the song, serving as a sort of emotional climax that was fun to rock out to.
Although the EP was solid in regards to its instrumentation and production, I can’t help but point out that the absence of hooks and catchiness will make it hard for Powdered Gold to gain the proper attraction that it is searching for. Oftentimes with solo projects, the lack of second or third opinions pertaining to songwriting is prevalent throughout the overly consistent nature of the music, and I think that is what happened with Powdered Gold. The correct elements are there, but if Shaban wants to collect the audience I’m assuming he wants, he needs to work on the flow and structure of his songs in a more conducive matter in order to create the emotionally resonating music that he wants to produce in a more lively fashion.
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