Two Guitars Live


Independent release, 2012

REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones


Science! is a new acoustic duo consisting of Justin Stang and Jim Elenteny advertising themselves as a acoustic roots band. When they alerted me to their presence, I was intrigued due to my love of acoustic music.  Their eight song EP Two Guitars Live is an enjoyable listen but it does not fit the definition of "roots" as I understand the term. Their sound is more of an acoustic rock that mixes acoustic Led Zeppelin with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds. The title of the EP is misleading in that it is not live for an audience, but recorded live in a community college studio (more on that later) with the goal of evoking what the duo's live performances sound like.

The duo has the ability to rock, as with the album opener "Austin Tune" and "Things Is Going My Way." Stang's gravelly voice fits the acoustic jam sound well. They can also slow it down, with "You And Rachel" utilizing a Spanish guitar style mixed with blues, and although the meaning is not clear, it is a good song.

"Chains" is the best song on the album; it is a well-written track about a wrongfully accused and convicted prisoner who, instead of hearing his normal footsteps when he walks, hears the sound of his chains rattle. The suspension chords on the acoustics in the refrain provide a perfect haunting sound as he is led away in chains. "You never met twelve people quite so mad at something that you never did" is a great line that almost seems impossible to write into a song, but it was done here nonetheless and again Stang's voice is perfect for the song. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Time" and "Seattle Song" sound very similar, with the former taking a familiar theme about growing older. The points in "Time" also mirror a bluegrass song by Lou Reid and Carolina also called "Time." I note this not to suggest that either song is a rip-off of the other, because they are different, but musicians lamenting the passing of time must be a common theme. "Seattle Song" is homage to the group's hometown, which gets political but is also worth a chuckle.

Science! as a group shows great promise, but Two Guitars Live has two drawbacks that knock it back a few points as a recorded work intended for professional distribution.  The first is that it is self-recorded in a community college studio. This in itself is not a bad thing; in fact, it is quite commendable because the advent of affordable studio equipment for the consumer in the last 15 years has made recording an album accessible to nearly any group. However, it is generally advised that groups who go this route need to have their recordings mixed and mastered by someone else lest their intimate connection with the project cloud their hearing. It is amazing what musicians hear in their heads that is not on the track, or what they don’t hear that is plain to all other listeners.  Two Guitars Live is not mixed poorly but it is noticeably homemade. The reasons are not easily defined, but it could be microphone placement or use/disuse of compression or equalization that leaves off a bit of polish that a professional studio could have done.  Luckily, the human ear gets used to these sonic qualities quickly, so by the end of the first track that initial impression is forgotten.

What is noticeable on nearly every track and cannot be ignored is that Two Guitars Live suffers from a general lack of precision, especially on the lead guitar solos. There are several instances where it almost seems as if the entire song is about to come off the rails and require a restart. While it is clear that Jim Elenteny is a good lead guitarist, this failing is present on every track at some point with the most egregious examples being on "Time," "Abilene," and "Things Is Going My Way."  It is possible that a more professional recording would have remedied this problem, or perhaps dropping the "live" intention and improving note accuracy with time and attention using overdubs in the studio would have pushed this recording to the next level.  It is almost there, but it is the little things that sometimes set recordings like this one back.

Overall, Science! shows great promise. Their style is one that should garner many fans and should they chose to record more, hopefully their next recording will be a more polished product.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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