The Sideways Guide To Love (EP)
REVIEW BY: Melanie Love
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/16/2012
I can’t resist a band from my hometown of Los Angeles who possess an excellent combination of timeless grooves and cool lyrics. Bravesoul fits all those criteria and then some, and their debut EP, The Sideways Guide To Love, would slot in easily on any alternative rock station.
These guys – singer-songwriter-guitarist Marty Rod, bassist/songwriter Eric Noble, and drummer Jason Baksh, along with co-producer Peter DiStefano (Porno for Pyros) – have a sound that’s hard to describe, except that it’s infinitely accessible. It’s a great blend of pop catchiness in their choruses, rock backbeats and guitar lines, with a touch of soul thrown in there for good measure. As the EP’s title would give away, this is a batch of love songs, but in a twisty, off-kilter sort of way that gives this material its personality and heart. This is love gone wrong, lovers spying on each other, lovers making promises they can’t keep. These are classic themes, spruced up with shiny instrumentation that makes Bravesoul perfect for today’s charts.
Launching things off is “Heartbreaker,” a solid, soulful ballad that sets the tone for the rest of the EP. I get a tinge of Maroon 5 and the Airborne Toxic Event listening to Bravesoul, but overall, this is a distinctive enough group that they make their own sound on just this short set of songs. Both “Heartbreaker” and “Build It Up” have a sweet pop vibe to them. The latter is the most straightforward love song on this disc, outfitted with flashes of guitar and some bluesy piano. Meanwhile, Marty Rod is a capable vocalist, moving easily from belting out the choruses to a smooth falsetto.
But the real highlight of The Sideways Guide To Love is “Keyhole,” which is already garnering viral attention. Rod’s vocals take on a deeper, more distinctive tone on this ominous cut, which describes a suspicious lover driven to spy on his significant other. The whole song is brimming with a nervous energy, which comes out in the skittering guitars and Rod’s soaring vocals. When he sings, “I know you’ve got a little secret / I know your dirty little secret,” it’s haunting and full of promise. Bravesoul creates universes in this one track, and I can see this one lighting up the rock charts. If you listen to one song by this group, make it this one. “Keyhole” is also where I got my Airborne Toxic Event connection; it’s got that sort of dark underbelly and grit that made “Sometime Around Midnight” such a wide hit.
Next up, “Promise You” steps back a bit from the dark energy of “Keyhole,” but it’s still a lovely pop song, powered along by Baksh’s straightforward drumming and Rod’s effortless vocals. Meanwhile, Bravesoul closes things out on a strong note with “Trouble,” a catchy ode to bad, bad love: “Yeah, they told me you were trouble / But you don’t look like trouble to me,” Rod sings on the indelible chorus as the instrumentation flashes around him, building to an energetic close.
The Sideways Guide To Love is an excellent glimpse into a band that I predict can make a splash as the year in music unfolds. Check out Bravesoul, and not just because they’re representing my hometown. This is a catchy and soulful group of songs and you’ll be drawn in from the first note.