Serial Thrillers

Serial Thrillers

Independent release, 2008

http://www.serial-thrillers.com/

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/06/2009

It’s nice to know that, while the earthy low-fi indie singer-songwriter vibe remains ascendant, there are still indie acts out there whose personal groove is all about hitting you with The Big Riff.

Serial Thrillers is an album I reviewed by accident, plopping it in and letting it ride through my subconscious for half an hour or more before I really sat up and took notice.  No doubt one of the explanations for that is the production – crystal-clear enough to earn the title of both blessing and curse – of Anthony J. Resta (Collective Soul, Duran Duran, Shawn Mullins, Perry Farrell).  Whether the songs are post-grunge guitar-heavy alt-rock (“The Cycle”) or more introspective and spacious fare (“Forgive”), there isn’t a molecule of sound out of place.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Much of the credit/blame there must also go to ST mastermind vocalist/guitarist/bassist/chief songwriter Paul Ortolano, whose earnest, appealing melodies remind me a bit of Second Dan in both their moody duality and their fundamental expansiveness.  To their credit, Ortolano, Resta and drummer Stephen Clements throw some interesting electronic textures into otherwise by-the-numbers cuts like “Miss Black & White” and “If Ever,” which help rescue them from the rather cliché-heavy lyrics.

Those quibbles aside, though, let’s be clear -- Serial Thrillers has appeal, or I wouldn’t have made it this far.  The album’s kickoff one-two punch of “Defied” and “Unattractive” are engaging and well-crafted, transitioning seamlessly from breezy pop melodicism to arena-sized guitar muscle.  There’s more goodness in the late going as well, as the steady-as-she-goes “Bolder” and rather Rush-divided-by-Tool closer “Rex” underscore Ortolano, Clements and Resta’s gift for crafting tasty big-sky guitar-pop.

Serial Thrillers raises expectations with a name that’s only somewhat justified by the end result.  That said, there’s a core of melodic appeal that’s undeniable.  A little less calculation and a little more true grit and Serial Thrillers could be onto something big.

Rating: B

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© 2009 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.