Release Date: August 28th 2018
Gypsy Road are a slacker band based in Melbourne, Australia. After forming in 2018, they wasted no time in writing a plethora of original material for a debut EP. Once the writing phase had been completed, the band set up camp in drummer James Dagiandas’s basement to commence recording. Armed with just a single microphone, they set about tracking the material over a six week period. Being a band who pride themselves on not taking things too seriously, they opted to leave mistakes and blips in the finished recordings. The resulting product, ‘The Corner’, showcases a young and ambitious band with a fantastically-formed sonic identity and a great sense of fun about them.
Muted guitar stings confidently open the EP, before easing into the melancholic groove of the opening track ‘Alone’. My attention immediately turns to vocalist/guitarist Alex Centofanti’s vocals, which are overall fantastic. His delivery has a wonderful dynamic range, sounding introspective and vulnerable at his quietest moments, yet anguished-filled and passionate at his loudest. He allows his natural dialect to come through in his singing voice, which I thought added a great personal touch and effectively contributed to their identity as a Melbourne-based band. His lyrics carry a great sense of jovial nostalgia, narrating memories of ‘Dropping acid tabs in the park/Drag racing with the parent in the car’. Musically, the verses feature stripped-back sections of just guitar and vocals, before launching into a chorus of crashing cymbals and screamed lyrics. This provides a nice sense of contrast across the track and shows good attention to detail.
‘Fear The Feelings’ is a laid-back track featuring influences of slacker and alternative rock. Particular praise goes to Dagiandas for a wonderfully-written drum track. He effectively adheres to the philosophy of ‘playing the song, not the instrument’, keeping his part simple and forming solid infrastructure for the syncopated chord changes and laid-back vocal delivery. This shows he’s clearly kept the arrangement itself at the forefront of his mind whilst composing his part, displaying a strong sense of musicianship. The chorus makes use of backing vocals on key lines, which I felt added a real sense of presence to the material and highlighted key aspects of the lyrical content. This is a ball I’d very much encourage the band to continue to pick up and run with as it’s well suited to their genre and adds a fantastic new dimension to their sound.
‘Ocean Like I Do’ continues in the same vein, making use of jangly guitar tones, crashing drums and shouted lyrics. At this point, my attention hones in on their adherence to the power trio format; Centofanti makes use of cleaner guitar tones which are full-bodied and crisp, allowing ample room for his vocal part. Dagiandas utilises crashing cymbals, well-written tom fills and a heavy delivery to uphold the momentum of each track. This effectively fills out some of the midrange frequencies and keeps each arrangement firmly glued together. Whilst bassist Tom Dawson’s parts are well-written and very suitable to the power trio format, I would strongly urge him to make use of a more trebly and defined tone to fill out some of the midrange frequences the band aren’t obtaining from a second guitarist. This would really aid in rounding out their sound, allowing each arrangement to be as full-bodied as possible. His parts are also mixed rather quietly across the EP, which makes them slightly difficult to hear and again results in a less full-bodied arrangement.
The instrumental track ‘Bring All Your Friends, They’re Invited!’ features an accomplished picked guitar line and a great use of ghost notes from Dagiandas. However, the limelight is truly stolen by Dawson, who provides a wonderfully-melodic bassline. His part provides a great counter to the guitar work and effectively inverts the harmony at key points, providing a great sense of variety and a huge amount of substance. At this point, my attention turns to the band’s sonic identity, which is very well-channeled and thoroughly-focused. The slacker genre is consistent across the EP and they’ve effectively carved out a whole host of signature traits, which include nostalgic lyrics and crashing cymbals. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how they choose to further develop and channel their sonic identity over their next few releases.
‘Poolhouse Esky’ is a shorter track based around a picked guitar line and sprarse drum part. The track features a great use of accented rhythms in the verses, which give the arrangement a really tight feel. My attention now turns to the EP’s production, which is overall very suited to their genre. Despite being recorded in a basement with a single microphone, the recording quality is overall very good and it’s clear the band have taken the time to source appropriate tones and takes at the source. Whilst there are indeed timing errors and slightly out of tune sections, I would encourage the band to retain this aspect of their sound as it effectively contributes to their sonic identity. The mixing and mastering is also good, with a consistent feel to the production from track to track. As previously mentioned, I’d encourage the band to consider ensuring that the bass guitar is mixed slightly louder on future releases to help round their mixes out.
‘Where In North Dakota Is Carmen San Diego? (I’ll Be Yours)’ effectively reprises many of the band’s signature traits and interestingly makes a reference to broken windows, a theme discussed in ‘Fear The Feelings’. Crashing cymbals, shouted vocals and jangly guitar tones propel the track forward, before slowly drawing to a close and making use of guitar harmonics to round things off. This left me with a feeling of satisfaction and a keenness to hear more from the band. Overall, ‘The Corner’ showcases a group that are overtly aware of their well-formed sonic identity and who take pride in their laid-back approach to music-making. They have a truly genuine quality about them and are sure to take leaps and bounds as a band in the near future. Highly recommended for any fans of slacker or grunge.