The city of Chicago has what is one of the richest and most diverse musical histories of any American city. From rock band Smashing Pumpkins to blues legend Muddy Waters to jazz master Benny Goodman to R&B/funk great Earth, Wind & Fire and far beyond, the “Windy City” has produced (and continues to produce) so much great music. Now, yet another band by the name of The Outfit is hoping to one day add its name to that expansive list. Next week, The Outfit will have the chance to make a positive start in that effort when it releases its self-titled debut album via Pavement Entertainment. The nine-song record is a work that will appeal to any fan of the music that bridged the late 1980s and early 1990s. That sound is one of the album’s key items, and will be discussed shortly. The album’s production also plays into its presentation. It will be discussed later. Last but certainly not least of note is its sequencing. It rounds out the album’s most important elements. Each element is important in its own right, as will be pointed out through this review. All things considered, they make The Outfit a respectable first effort from its namesake.
The Outfit’s self-titled debut full-length studio recording is a respectable first effort from the Chicago, IL-based band. Over the course of the nine-song album’s 28-minute run time, this band takes listeners back to a great age of music — that of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Of course, it is more prominently filled out by arrangements that were more fitting from the latter time frame than the prior. Right off the top in the album’s opener, ‘Wire,’ listeners get an arrangement that is closely similar to music from Foo Fighters’ early days. ‘Lucky One,’ the album’s second entry, boasts an arrangement that instantly leaves listeners making comparisons to Collective Soul’s early offerings. It is not the only time that listeners will find themselves making comparisons to Collective Soul or Foo Fighters. ‘TKO’ actually seems to combine elements of both for its whole while ‘Soldier Boy,’ with its welcome pro-military message, boasts an arrangement that again likens itself to early works from Foo Fighters as does ‘Just As One,’ which comes later in the album’s run. The Collective Soul comparisons continue, too as the album makes its way into ‘Miracle’ and ‘No Lights On.’
For all of the comparisons that can be and are made to Foo Fighters and Collective Soul, they are not the only comparisons that can be made here. As has been noted, there is at least one comparison that can be made to music from that very short time between the late 80s and early 90s. It comes in the form of the album’s closer, ‘Hot Love.’ The instant comparison that comes to mind in hearing this song is to Motley Crue. That is due in part to guitarist Matt Nawara’s driving riffs, which form the song’s foundation. Front man Andy Mitchell echoes Vince Neil in his vocal dlivery here while even hinting slightly at former Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler. It’s an interesting combination to say the very least. Drummer Mark Nawara keeps the song moving solidly through his time keeping while Mike Gorman puts the finishing touch to the song with his low-end. Considering that the band saved this song for last, it makes a lasting statement for the album, leaving listeners feeling wholly fulfilled by the time it ends. Considering the fulfillment that the album offers through its arrangements, it suffices to say that they do plenty to prove why this album is a respectable start for The Outfit. Of course, they collectively are only a part of what helps this album prove to be that good start for the band. Its production is also key to supporting that statement.
The production of The Outfit’s self-titled debut album is key to discuss because this is the band’s first effort and because of the names that were brought in to handle its creation. Matt Mercado (Emperors and Elephants, Mindbomb, SOiL) engineered the record while Ulrich Wild (Slipknot, SOiL, Deftones) handled mixing duties. These two men are highly respected names in the music industry. It goes without saying that by and large, the pair’s work paid off throughout the album. However, one cannot deny that there were some minor issues at points, too. Case in point, ‘Unfolds.’ Listening though this song, it sounds as if there is a slight balance issue between Mitchell’s vocals and the work of his band mates. Listening to the song both on CD and in its MP3 format, it seems like both elements are on the same level, making the song feel like the two sides are competing with each other constantly. The end result is a song that while catchy, does lose something along the way. ‘Just As One’ also seems to slightly suffer from this balance issue, too. Luckily though, this issue — in both songs — is not enough to completely ruin the album. Again, by and large, the album’s production is impressive, with each band member shining in his own right. Keeping this in mind, the album’s overall sound impresses in its own right, too. That’s even with the couple of minor misses that are there. Now, having noted the album’s songs and their appeal to the band’s key audience, and the song’s overall production, it cane be said with ease that this record is a respectable start for The Outfit. There is still one more element to note that supports that statement. That last element is the album’s sequencing.
The album’s sequencing is so important to note because listeners will note how much time and thought was put into this element. From beginning to end, the album’s sequencing solidly maintains its energy. The only point at which the album ever really pulls back in its energy comes late in its run in ‘Miracle.’ Of course, the song is a song about a break-up. So naturally, it’s going to be more reserved than its counterparts. Other than that one single moment, the rest of the album solidly maintains its energy throughout. Add in some expected lyrical themes to compliment the production and the songs themselves, and audiences get in this record a work that is, once more, a respectable start for The Outfit. It shows that the band’s future is in its own hands,and that the sky is the limit for the band’s future. All of this being noted, The Outfit’s debut album is a work that deserves at least one listen. It will be available next Friday, Feb. 2 in stores and online via Pavement Entertainment. More information on The Outfit is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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