(Oak Sincere Information, CD, digital)
Whereas accepting his band’s latest Grammy Award, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes was requested about the way forward for rock music. He gave all of the cliché solutions about there being room for all genres, and so on., earlier than including a reducing addendum: “Not essentially blues-rock, please. No extra of that.”
Casablancas’ quote involves thoughts whereas listening to On the Sleeve, the brand new EP from Derek O’Kanos. I stored considering to myself, Is that this the type of rock we’d like in 2021? “Howlin’ Wolf” opens the document with an overdriven, primal guitar riff proper out of the garage-rock playbook. O’Kanos tells the age-old story of feeling the world’s stress and solely with the ability to endure it for love. “Why does that mild fade away?” he wonders in a plaintive croon. Then, “Reality be advised, I do not know / I believe I simply went astray / Fortunately for me I can stand by myself with some assist from a girl I do know.”
Each the monitor’s sound and the simplicity of its intent stayed with me. “Howlin’ Wolf” is ostensibly a great composition; it simply lacks any sense of shock.
Maybe O’Kanos has grappled with these questions, as nicely. In his bio, the Brattleboro-via-Connecticut musician labels his music “genuine and acquainted; paying homage to the singers and seekers who got here earlier than him.” That is an correct assertion. O’Kanos’ sound is extremely acquainted.
Nonetheless, O’Kanos has a wider vary than the opening monitor suggests. “So It Goes” jumps forward just a few many years and lands squarely in an early ’90s alternative-rock vibe, using a driving beat and chugging guitar lick. O’Kanos performs each sound on the five-track EP himself, and does so fairly nicely. That is all the time a powerful feat, much more so when the document feels like a band. O’Kanos manages to impart as a lot character to his drums as to his guitar solos. And the people sensibilities in his memorable vocal melodies intersect properly together with his garage-rock basis.
Most promising of the EP’s songs is “Shoreline Collision.” It is a jaunty blast of pop rock, with a bouncing bass line and a guitar determine paying homage to a Seashore Fossils document. The monitor gives the clearest perception into O’Kanos’ potential. He shows an abundance of expertise, in addition to the power to flit between genres with ease. When he marries these qualities with less-regressive songwriting, as he does right here, the tip result’s intriguing.
The upside of individuals gnashing their enamel over the form of rock that ought to affect new sounds is that this stuff are likely to type themselves out, no matter whether or not critics or musicians attempt to dictate what’s cool. If the tip result’s what O’Kanos does right here — crossing by way of genres as a chameleon — I do not actually see a draw back.
On the Sleeve sacrifices stream for a form of variance, however for probably the most half O’Kanos pulls it off properly. It is going to be fascinating to see whether or not he continues his shape-shifting methods going ahead.
Discover On the Sleeve at derekokanos.bandcamp.com.