Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: Cole Hermer and The Ravens - Quoth the Raven EP

Sometimes it’s the most innocuous of things that can have the most surprising impacts in life. For instance, consider the story of Cole Hermer. Raised on a diet of classic rock artists like Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper, juxtaposed against an alternate soundscape of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Simon and Garfunkel. When a writing disability led his mother to purchase the ten year old a guitar to practice with in hopes that it would help with his dexterity issues, the experiment failed. What didn’t fail, however, was the budding artist’s love for music and by seventh grade he’d penned his first original song.

That love continued to grow and develop, Hermer voraciously devouring music wherever he could find it, exploring metal, progressive rock, and more. High school found the growing artist engaging with groups like Mumford and Sons, The White Stripes, and The Black Keys, those formative bands helping to hone Hermer’s evolving sound.

It was another chance encounter that led to Hermer’s latest adventure, the recording of his first EP, Quoth the Raven.

“My philosophy is take every chance you get because it will lead you to an interesting place. I got cast in this reality show about musicians in the Durham region, and that’s where I met Michael (Hanson),” he shares. “He is a big deal; the well-known songwriter-drummer of Glass Tiger. He heard me work with this music group on the show and liked my voice. Out of the blue he offered me the chance to do an EP.”

The EP captures a formative point within the young artist’s creative development, finding him move beyond the straight metal angst of so many teenage artists and segue into a set of five songs that capture elements of classic, garage, and folk rock, among many others.

Speaking of the EP’s diversity, Hermer offers, ““As I was recording, my music tastes were growing so much, the EP reflects that diversity.”

“California Breakdown” opens up the record with a rich tapestry of roaring garage rock, raging guitars and relentless percussion holding sway as Hermer unleashes his passionate vocals, conjuring images of Jack White and Robert Plant. The track oozes emotion and has a free flowing vibe going for it but, a closer listen seems to hint that the arrangement is actually much more rehearsed and tightly woven than it appears.

“Exploitable Youth” follows hard after, big crunchy blues rock guitars setting the table for Hermer’s indictment upon the treatment and experience of so many young performers in the music industry who are used and chewed up by the machine. With serious vocal chops he sings, “Hey kids do you want to be the star of the season?/Into the abyss where mom and dad make every decision/Burn your salvation when you’ve got nothing to lose/And follow blindly till they find someone new.”

Hermer takes his sound in an unexpected direction on the subdued platform of “Friends,” maintaining those blues rock elements throughout a quieter template that really let his lyrics and vocals shine. He brings in some playful background harmonies that provide a glossy sheen against his raspy lead vocal, offering up a solid contrast before bridging into the acoustic driven folk rock, “Maybe In the Morning,” co-written with producer Hanson. Album closer “Teenage Creed” finds the artist coming full circle, more bluesy garage rock taking center stage as the artist spits out lyrics with a sneer and a snarl, ending things on a high note.

While some of Cole Hermer’s opportunities have come by way of the classic “right time, right place” concept, the artist has not let those opportunities lay dormant, working hard to build his art and on Quoth the Raven, Cole Hermer and The Ravens stand up and stand out, showing why they’re worthy of a listen. Passionate, youthful, and energetic yet intelligent and skilled as well, this is a band to watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment