Two bands, one EP. Can you tell Alto Heceta from Speed of Sauce without the aid of the back of the CD? More importantly, do you even want to?
This split EP introduces both bands, but with only three songs for each, does not provide enough opportunity to get to know either band. Both have the same sort of mellowed-out, sensitive-boy rock feel to them, and the lead singers’ voices are strangely similar. Instead of the split-disc making the two bands stand out as separate entities, this EP shows how closely the two resemble each other, perhaps with the thought that if you like one, you’ll like the other. Unfortunately, you’ll end up liking neither.
Alto Heceta takes the first half of the EP, opening with the unsurprising “Taking Down the Clocks”, with singer Dino Balocchi mumbling his way through the lyrics over an assault of two chord guitar playing. The song has a certain catchy charm, but leaves the noticeable impression that it sounds like so many other songs you’ve heard before. “Roadtrips and Fingertips” slows down in an attempt to reveal the band’s softer side, but the sleepy song meanders along a bit too earnestly without ever revealing why you should care. The spirited “So September” works a bit harder, with an energetic deluge of guitars and drums that alternates with quieter moments in a thoughtful pace. “So September” is the standout of Alto Heceta’s tracks, and is the only one that gives the listener any sense of who the band actually is. Since it’s the band’s last song, however, the impression quickly fades.
Speed of Sauce’s three tracks are a bit heavier and a bit darker, but still aren’t too far from Alto Heceta’s sound. The ridiculously titled “I’m not doing anything wrong; I just want to be able to lock my door, okay? Geez.” opens the band’s set and is a muddle of guitar, bass, and drums, with no one instrument standing out. It creates an initial impression of a band that is uncertain of what it is trying to do. “You Voice” shows Speed of Sauce to have a bit more potential, the song having a cautiously spooky quality to it with its cyclical arrangement and understated vocals. “My Awesome Riff”, however, sends the band straight back into the qualities of generic modern rock, and the cutesy title does nothing to help them overcome this impression. Speed of Sauce has a bit of potential, but much like Alto Heceta, once it begins to be interesting, the EP is over.
Perhaps that was the intention, to inspire listeners to seek out more by either of these bands, but it winds up working against both. While it is easy to have a spark of interest in either, there is too little on this EP to showcase either Alto Heceta’s or Speed of Sauce’s true talents. If either band had the EP to itself, it would be more apparent where that band’s strengths truly lay. Instead, with only three songs each, they both come across as indistinguishable alt-rock bands, and there’s already enough of those. Why does anyone really need to go find new ones, much less two?
// Notes from the Road
"José González's sets during Newport Folk Festival weren't on his birthday (that is today) but each looked to be a special intimate performance.READ the article