By Jonathan Hammer
Gritty, raw, pure energy – This Criminal Soul’s latest single “65 Corvette” gives you all you could want out of a rock n’ roll band. From the first 4 seconds of the song – a “yeah!” and high hat count off – through the final 5:22 counter, I immediately got the feeling that this single just wouldn’t let up its energy. Luckily, I was right.
With a simple song construction, focusing on mostly repetitive A/B/Chorus sections that have repeating guitar and bass riffs but just enough drum flavor to keep things fresh, the instrumentals of “65 Corvette” excel at providing a foundation for a narrative – because who doesn’t love driving through the desert in a damn Corvette?
And the narrative lyricism is something worth highlighting; though I typically listen to much heavier music that lyrically focuses on pure emotional abstraction, Christoph Whitbeck’s storytelling is a nice break from abstract material. There’s enough imagery to provide characterization and location even though the focus of the content is plot-driven, which are the sure signs of a seasoned writer.
The single also plays with tension and release in a tasteful way; for example, a guitar solo kicks in at 3:10 and is as rock n’ roll as you could want, with the drums and bass not trying to overtake it, despite moments where they easily could. Rather than keep the energy high, the bridge at 3:40 becomes softer – but instead of killing the energy, it sets 4:03’s buildup to be energetic enough that its screamed sections from 4:13 – 4:30 climax the song.
While I try to remain unbiased to the nuances that come with different genres, I will say that I think the most lacking part of the song is the production, most notably on the kick drum and floor tom, and also in the absence of guitar double tracking. But despite its lack of fullness, the production still captures that rock n’ roll grit, and I doubt the average rock listener will catch any flaws with the song. It’s also worth noting that the tones in this song are fitting of the genre and work well together.
Overall, “65 Corvette” is worth the listen – and if you like the recording, the song is even more of a force live. With a new album in the works from the band, I can’t wait to hear what else This Criminal Soul can put out and how this will serve as a stepping stone for their sound. – 4/5
You can download “65 Corvette” on Bandcamp.
Also, check out This Criminal Soul’s entry into NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest below:
Upcoming THS Shows:
2/27 @ Main Street Tavern in Stratford
3/3 @ Cafe Nine in New Haven
3/11 @ Three Sheets in New Haven