The Tapples, that “may just be Massachusetts next big band” as said by WCVB Channel 5 Anchor Katie Thompson, consists of six young boys who look like they’re not yet old enough to drive. The band consists of lead vocalist Sam Doff, lead guitarist Riley Zakarian, guitarist Avery Zakarian, bassists Daniel King and Arie Shalita and drummer Liam King. They are Needham, Massachusetts’ youngest recording artists and their first release was their EP Bus Recovery.The boys met in grade school and began performing at the annual Hillside Elementary School Talent Show. Always up for a musical challenge, each band member plays multiple instruments, sings three-and-four-part harmonies and are learning how to record and produce their own music using Pro Tools software.Their latest ten track release Where You’ve Been was recorded at Wooly Mammoth Sound in Waltham, Massachusetts, by sound engineer David Westner, mixed by Dennis D'Angelo and mastered by Tom Waltz(Waltz Mastering).
The first song and album title track "Where You've Been" is about life in Needham with references to the band's favorite places. Heavily influenced by Green Day's sound on Dookie, the band taps into that classic power pop-punk sound of the early ‘90s. Geez, do we call ‘90s music ‘classic’ already? "Stuck in Our Own Ways" is a song about the constant struggle between teenagers and parents. The intro is a throwback to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” while the rest of the song was influenced by the sound from R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.” You can really hear the deep bass and drum sounds, as well as the vocal harmonies. I would even say the band reaches back into R.E.M.’s I.R.S. label years, too. "Place to Hide" shows the acoustic side of the band. Although they originally recorded it in the studio, they re-recorded the acoustic guitars at home during the mixing process, using sound dampeners out of towels inside a walk-in closet. This one shows off the band’s remarkable talent, not to mention their fantastic vocal harmonies. I was pretty amazed!
Next up is "Beautiful Disaster" and it’s about overcoming mental roadblocks and irrational fears. What caught my ears right away were the drums, but dang, everyone else rocked hard, too. This song has a ton of power pop energy behind it and I loved the solo breaks, too. "Cabana Boy" was originally a joke song the band wrote about a series of bets between two of their dads, where the loser had to be the other's cabana boy for a day. The band keeps up the energy on this one – and I’ll be danged if Daniel Kings or Shalita’s bass didn’t sound like Simon Gallup’s from The Cure. Loved the sound effects of the guitar solo as well. "Namaste Bob" was another joke song written about the drummer's family strife. It features the drummer's dog, Sierra, at the end. Plenty of bass popping and slappin’ on this one. The dog bark was awesome in this fun number.
"The Lobster Song" tells a slightly varied story of the band’s singer's grandfather who loved to order lobster at Chinese restaurants. This tune really showcases the band’s vocal harmonies – like a lot. Well done lads! "Step Outta Line" was written about a dream that the lead guitarist had. The overall sound was heavily influenced by Counting Crows. It’s got an interesting timing arrangement between the guitars, drums and vocals. I thought this one had something about it that set it apart from the others. To me, it sounded like something well-seasoned musicians would play. It definitely became a favorite and I loved the band’s choice to fade the song out, too.
"Waves of Thunder" was influenced by The Who and U2 and it’s a song about the singer's irrational fear of boats. This one was also a favorite, because it seemed to show another side to the band’s style. A side that may hint at what’s next for them. I loved the layered guitar parts, rumbling drums, as well as the guitar solo and echoing effects towards the end. Last there is "Starlit Sky" which was recorded at home, in a closet, but you wouldn’t know it. This is the band’s only “ballad”, complete with heartfelt words sung by a very young tenor, Riley Zakarian, alongside tender melancholic guitar melodies. A gem of a closer. Well, what can I say? Mind blown.
This Massachusetts sextet sounds like they’ve been playing for years and years. Their voices are bound to get lower – but perhaps not so much? They certainly have a grasp on control and harmonies in my view. No doubt they already have their instrument chops down pat and a lot of years ahead of them playing music. And hopefully, a lot of gigs lined up once this whole Covid thing is over with. I wish them well.
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