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Mindfeels: XXenty
Mindfeels - XXenty CD Album Review

Mindfeels: XXenty

AOR Melodic Rock
3.5/5.0

Mindfeels was not always Mindfeels. Some 20 years ago, Italo Graziana (drums), Roberto Barazzotto (bass) and Luca Carlomagno (guitars, keyboards, violin) created Dejanira, a cover band doing instrumental versions of Toto songs. Sometime later, the band enlarged to add vocalist Raffaella Miani to record an unreleased first album. Moving to the more recent past, Miani was replaced by Davide Gilardino, and the band set to recording a new album. With the Toto and Westcoast influence still prominent in their music, the band changed their name to Mindfeels, a play on the 1999 Toto album Mindfields. They drop their first album XXenty, so named to celebrate their better than 20 years playing music together.

Mindfeels - XXenty Band Photo

Mindfeels

With that introduction, I know what your first question would be: Does Mindfeel simply sound like Toto? The question is a simple one, but the answer is not. And honestly, I've never been much of a Toto fan, especially despising the song Rosanna. Nevertheless, and obviously, since they've been playing Toto covers for a long time those Westcoast influences will rub off. Like Toto, Mindfeels incorporates all the signature Westcoast elements: strong use of melody, harmony, and groove from the vocals to guitar lines, keyboards to rhythm section, then wrapped in arrangements that can sway between light and airy to dense and deliberate. Additionally, sweet melodies and catchy refrains abound in all of Mindfeels' arrangements. Also and again, not unlike Toto and Steve Lukather specifially, Luca Carlomagno has a strong guitar presence in both riffs and leads. Suffice to say, while not sounding specifially like Toto, Mindfeels play Westcoast AOR rock in the same vein as Toto. They're hoping, of course, to carve out their own style and may do so with this album.

Moving on to some song highlights. Some songs with a heavier character, especially in the riffs and rhythm section, include Soul Has Gone Away, The Joker, and Touch The Stone. But even these are tempered by lighter parts in melody and synth embellishment. For instance, in the latter part of Touch The Stone there's a nice subdued fusion of guitar and synths. The Westcoast feeling rises in The Number One where guitar, bass, drums, and synths twist into a breezy jazz-rock fusion. A song like Speed turns not on its title, but more on a rhythmic bass groove which starts and fills the arrangement. Piano lilts across the song as rhythm increases in the riffage. And Gilardino's vocals are relaxed but also deliberate. Surprisingly, the song doesn't end with a guitar solo, something otherwise notable across this album. Something of a ballad arrives with These Words, a slower more subtle song that turns mostly on the vocal arrangement. But what's missing here is one song, if not a few, that could be considered radio-friendly and memorable; that is, something that really "pops" and gets your attention. The opener Don't Leave Me Behind or possibly Soul Has Gone Away may be the best candidates. Nevertheless, all in all, for Mindfeels, veterans of the Westcoast style, XXenty is a consistent and fine first effort, offering the promise of a bright future. Recommended if you like AOR melodic rock in the Westcoast tradition.



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The Bottom Line

All in all, for Mindfeels, veterans of the Westcoast style, XXenty is a consistent and fine first effort, offering the promise of a bright future. Recommended if you like AOR melodic rock in the Westcoast tradition.

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