While not having much live show experience together, the members of The Sylvans can at least say that within three days their debut Background Music was recorded. Although not recorded in a professional studio, the band had the help of Josh Lamar’s recording studio experience and the mastering wizardry of veteran music producer Rodney Mills. The band has an “unrepentant love for crunchy guitars, post-punk riffs and catchy choruses.” The Sylvans have been compared to The Strokes, Weezer and The Cars. So, if you’re into that and from what I heard, you’re going to be pleasantly well fed from this Oakland, California band.
The album’s title track opens with a wonderful live sound of the drums – deep, rich and warm. The song’s melody is equally great with catchy guitar riffs and lyrics. I loved the deep, driving bass lines on “Pack It Up” in this really short song about taking off somewhere on the road. “Out of Sight” features plenty of memorable guitar licks and straightforward rhythms. The guitar work, overall style and background vocal harmonies on “So Much Better” reminded me of a ‘60s surf pop group via Weezer and has the makings of a single. “No Chance at All” features a steady rhythm guitar and a cool addition of keys that sounds like an old vintage organ.
The shortest song on the album is “Between the Eyes” and reminds me of a cross between The Strokes and The Killers. “Whenever You’re Ready” has a nice swinging style on drums and guitar and comes off as a sweet-sounding love song with back up singing in all the right places. “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” has a catchy guitar riff that stuck in my head for a while and I felt it would make for another great single. I loved how “Walk Away” comes together with fuzzy, throaty sounding keys that reminded me of the beginning to Led Zeppelin’s “Trampled Underfoot.” The additional organ-type keys and live drums sound especially good in this tune.
“Control Myself” ends The Sylvans debut with a poppy and punchy drum beat, matched with cutting guitar riffs. I think one of the strengths this band has is how they change genre styles on the verse and chorus parts in some of their songs, mostly notably on this last one, and do it so well as if they’ve been playing for years. Overall, The Sylvans deliver more than just background music to tune out or shut off on this first release.
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