Marksmen - Blue & The Grey
Record Label: Unsigned
Release date: May 6, 2010
It's funny how the smallest coincidences possible can lead to something that can change your life forever. Matt Segallos, the lead singer with one of the smoothest voices I've ever heard, met the lead guitarist, Christopher Brickman in a store while Segallos was playing a song by As Tall As Lions. From then on they began writing music and making it with Reed Murray and a bassist to form Glascow, which later turned into Marksmen after kicking out the bassist and inviting Glenn Espinoza to play. Together they created their first EP, and what an EP it is.
I mention all the band members names and how the band formed because I believe to fully appreciate the emotions and musicality this EP thrusts to you, you need to know a bit about them. Especially the lead vocalist and lyricist; Matt Segallos is not your average front-man. He's a pretty big guy. He has a high pitched laugh. And he pours a drop of his soul into every lyric he writes. His stories of love, life, and enjoying your whiskey is one of the most honest renditions of a human in a band since first hearing Christopher Browder. The opener "Don't Make A Move" starts off with a guitar riff that goes from substantial to loaded in a matter of seconds. The song is a slightly dark, smug look into what can happen between two consenting adults after a night of drinking. The lyrics are fun, a little racy, but most of all, blatantly honest. Almost everything about this song entices you to listen to the rest of the EP, no matter your first opinion of this band. Lyrics like "Rags to riches/ maybe this'll be the one/ You drank your fill/ now you've built you spill/ and now I get to have my fun, I get to have my fun." give you the idea that Segallos knows what he's doing, despite the alcohol running through his veins and the constant teasing of the lady he sings about.
The next song on this 6 song EP 'Arizona' is far from being a misstep. In reality, it's more of a step in the right direction for Marksmen, as the constant progression of drums and guitar on this song is a maverick to behold, with Segallos' lyrics and vocals being the wonderful icing on the cake. The distortion of Brickman's guitar coupled with the hard hitting drums of Murray make the entire song a joy to listen to. There is is one stumble on this EP, and "Scotch And Rocks" is not that. This song follows the formula that Marksmen has used to this point, and does it in such a way that it still feels fresh and unique. Maybe it's their southern charm, maybe it's the echoes of the vocals, or maybe it's everything thrown together at the same time, but it works in such a way that makes it feel like you're listening to the song for the first time over and over and over again. And you're blown away every time.
This happens a lot. The idea that a rock band has to have one acoustic song in order to have 'variety'. While Marksmen's first three songs have done well enough in order to make you want more, they decide you're cut off for now. Their acoustic ballad that clocks in at a little over two minutes features guest vocals by Geri X, a somewhat well known singer in the independent scene. The start of the song shows the lack of seriousness of Segallos and Brickman, yet when the guitar is playing and the notes are being sung, the honesty and need that Segallos and Geri X show is unmatched by any of the other songs on the EP. The inclusion of 'Just kidding' and 'Fin' at the beginning and end of the song is a reminder that it isn't experience: it's a performance. That's what they molded out of something. The song is a short, sweet little taste into how Marksman may have started out: an acoustic duo. While the song is great, thankfully Marksmen became what it is today. Although a little taste never hurt anyone.
And here we are. The stumble. The one song that I have a problem with. Albeit a little problem, but that's besides the point. A fantastic six song EP sounded too good to be true. "Exhibitionist", while having some wonderfully redeeming qualities, has something that just doesn't settle as nicely as the four before it. The lyrics are good, but not great. The guitar is rhythmic, but not blazing. The drums are hard, but not pounding. the bass is constant, but not profoundly noticeable. The gang vocals definitely add to the lack of enjoyment of this song, simply because it's not as needed as the crooning of Segallos during the chorus. The song is somewhat forgettable, but definitely not terrible.
The final song of the EP is the title track, and the song definitely earns the title it so eloquently holds. The 5 and a half minute epic changes tempo, uses both electric and acoustic guitar seamlessly, and lyrics just as powerful and meaningful as the opening track. It's from this moment you realize the entire EP has been a brief journey through Segallos' mind. The song has no trepidation whatsoever when reaching the climactic moment, and leaves the listener completely satisfied with harmonies, melodies, and powerful musicianship. The breakdown 4 minutes in is welcomed by the vocals being thrown into the forefront, layered over each other to distract you from the build of the guitar and drums, hitting you with "Don't close your eyes child/ I swear to God I'll put a bullet in your side/ just as sure as you're standing there."
Marksmen have room for improvement, and it may be reached with their full length Sister of Mine, but one thing's for sure: An EP that's legitimately fleshed out is a sight to behold, and Marksmen may have just achieved this, less one misstep.