As a reviewer or critical listener, it's hard not to become jaded or cynical about modern music in these commercially predictable times. What is thrust upon us by the mainstream labels usually does nothing more than suck the air out of musical viability and the money out of our wallets. This is probably the single best reason why I love to hear from independent, unsigned artists. Enter My Situation's A Mile from Nowhere, a delightful, infectious, and hardly predictable concoction of 12 genre-crossing songs.
My Situation is the project of songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and Bronx New York native Derek Torres. A quick audio overview shows that A Mile from Nowhere is not the usual fair cursing the pages of Rolling Stone or Spin magazines. One might even say Torres has slipped through a wormhole into the 70's or 80's because his music is far from what passes for modern fare. A Mile from Nowhere is classic melodic hard rock with emphasis on the melodic. Torres can sing without grunting or growling, and (gasp!) he can actually play a guitar solo.
The strengths of A Mile from Nowhere are found in Torres' strong and diverse song composition, an emphasis on vocal arrangements, and his rather impressive fret skills. With an emphasis on melodic rock, My Situation can traverse the more subtle side on Remember the Day and Everything to things harder and heavier on Mind Ride and Night of the Dead. Torres is more than a little heavy-handed on the distortion throughout, but this quality coupled with the varied guitar work gives many songs a 70's psychedelic feel, especially on Only Soul or All Comes Down. Even the urban piece, The Crew, sounds less like today's hip-hop and more like glory days of the 1980's when rap and rock merged so eloquently.
On the vocal arrangement side, Torres has a surprisingly sound and pleasing voice which expresses itself with some passion on a song like Deeper. Being a solo project, the background vocals are provided by the artist to often less than average effect. Many times, as on Only Soul, they are poorly integrated and mixed making arrangement sound contrived and the album third rate.
Being a guitar lover, I was more than satisfied by Torres' fretwork. He not only shows some imagination and cleverness, but the solos work well within each song. This demonstrates a strong sense of compositional congruity rather than adding a solo as an afterthought. From beginning to end, the guitar work is quite viable and entertaining with a huge and entertaining run from Mind Ride through Remember the Day.
On the downside, and this is inherent in most Indie solo projects, the production on A Mile from Nowhere is average at best. The production mix is audibly uneven throughout, and often from one song to the next. I mentioned the daft vocal arrangements earlier. However, sometimes the guitar solos, which are some the best parts, get shortchanged and muffled as on Would You Care. However, much of this can be overlooked because of the strength of the songs and Torres' musicianship.
Overall, My Situation's A Mile from Nowhere is a strong first effort beyond the bounds of mainstream fare. Built upon a foundation of classic melodic hard rock, sound song composition is combined with notable musicianship to create an intriguing, genre-crossing compilation. Recommended!
My Situation's A Mile from Nowhere is a strong first effort beyond the bounds of mainstream fare. Built upon a foundation of classic melodic hard rock, sound song composition is combined with notable musicianship to create an intriguing, genre-crossing compilation.