CD Review: Too little life in 'Dead'

Band and musicians have a certain something that defines them. People know Bob Dylan for his stream-of-consciousness lyrics and nasal voice, the Beatles for their catchy Mersey beat and Van Halen for its ear-splitting guitar solos.

The Fountain Valley alternative rock band Ceasefire, however, doesn't seem to have that unique identity just yet. Its self-released EP "In the Dead of Night" is six tracks of the band sounding like various other bands and their musical trademarks.

The opening "I Want to Know" has the makings of a great song. There is, however, one aspect that bugs me, and that's the loud synthesizer during the chorus. It reminds me of something the Killers would do, but Ceasefire just took it too far.

I'm all for the sound of synths in songs. I love the song "Roundabout," by Yes, and that has a lot of keyboard in it. Maybe it's Ceasefire's decision to go with a high-pitched tone that seems to drown out the rest of the instruments that has me so annoyed.

I found the keyboards on the track "In the Dead of Night" and most of the other songs on the EP just right, so I know this band is capable of easing up on the synthesizer.

"In the Dead of Night" is a single that is currently getting some radio time on KROQ. It's reminiscent of some of Muse's electric dance music-inspired songs, which could be a good or bad thing depending on the listener. I, for one, am not a huge fan of "drops," the point at which a song pauses and plays with a more emphasized tone. I liked this track up to that point, and then it lost me.

The last song, "We're Not Breaking," is an interesting love ballad about being with someone through thick and thin. But again, Ceasefire makes questionable use of synthesizers or music samples. The song is beautifully crafted, with the guitars playing softly in the background and the singer's voice as the centerpiece of the track. But during the chorus there's an odd, electronic sound suggestive of a robotic chirping bird.

The best track on the EP is "Wake Up," which should have been Ceasefire's first single off this album. The vocals are just right, there's a subtle and catchy guitar solo toward the end of the song, and the drums make you want to dance. Everything falls right into place with this song, and I can't understand how other tracks on the EP could be a bit off.

Sometimes it takes an album or two for a band or musician to find that intangible component that will define the music. Queens of the Stone Age started to make it big with their second album, "Rated R," and broke into the mainstream with the next LP, "Songs for the Deaf."

But Ceasefire's album is an EP, after all, and the band could change its sound by the time it releases its first full-length album. And I hope it does make some changes.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World