The Vantage – Summer EP
Record Label: None
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Honestly, prior to hearing about The Vantage, I hadn’t thought about the pop-punk/rock of Safety Word Orange in quite some time. However, even back in 2011, I felt Safety had a lot of potential if they took a few more risks. The Vantage, the new band of Safety’s singer James Mason and guitarist Jackson Wise, does exactly that with their debut EP, Summer. This sound is a nice dose pop-rock made for summer nights, with a handful of tricks thrown in there.
Somber guitar strums and softly sung words open the EP with “Changes.” The diversity and experimentation come early on though. Out of nowhere comes a groovy bass meets synth midway through, yet the song also unexpectedly shifts tempo back to the slow eerie feel of the intro. It’s a lot of miscellany packed into one track, but The Vantage are all about taking risks. “Chasing After You” proves the skill of Wise on the guitar, as the shifty guitar line has quite the folk meets jazz influence. It’s rare this kind of jazzy guitar work surfaces in pop music (insert John Mayer comment here), but it works well throughout this track – even the guitar solo doesn’t come across as over the top.
The EP’s softest point follows with “From The Start,” a song that thrives on simplicity. It’s calm, soft, yet romantic. After Mason sings, “When I met you darling / I loved you from the start,” the endearing “oh-oh’s” fill the air before the lightly plucked guitar sneaks back in. It’s delicate, calm, and endearing – the ideal soft love song. The antithesis of “From The Start” comes with closer “City I’m Dreaming Of." The final track brings each element of the EP to a new level. Right off the bat, you’ve got the jazzy guitar line, but it's the hasty drums that get your foot tapping right along. Handclaps and finger snaps follow until suddenly an electric guitar line fights its way in as Mason sings at top volume, “So here’s the part where it all starts spinning around.” The way the guitar gets frenzied as Mason sings these words again attests to the skill of the band on a songwriting standpoint, saving the best for last.
For just a debut EP, Summer has The Vantage enlisting the best of the best here, and it shows. Rob Freeman’s production is stellar as always, while guest Ari Sadowitz (of The Narrative) flexes his bass skills, adding to the mix. And of course Breen’s drumming really tops it all of. Mason and Wise have finally recognized their potential and embraced it with The Vantage and Summer, as each track showcases a different skill from the two musicians.
Just a few days ago I was listenin' to an old acoustic SWO's track, Halloween (which was available for free download here on AP.net in 2010, if I'm not mistaken), and I found myself thinkin': «Damn, how much I miss this band I really don't know». I'm really, really glad that former SWO members are back in action, I've yet to listen to the entire EP, just heard a couple of songs, but what I've heard was mind-blowing.
Similar to GetUpAndrew, I really miss SWO as they were one of my favorite bands. But, right when I heard that a couple of the guys were going to be releasing music under this new name, I was more than excited to check it out. While it isn't exactly like SWO, it is a great (!!!) change up. I really enjoyed your review and think this band has an incredible amount of potential. Best of luck to these guy!