Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Adam Lazzara Debuts A Late December

Adam Lazzara
Taking Back Sunday frontman Adam Lazzara never intended to be a vocalist. He was originally invited out to Long Island by John Nolan (guitar) and Eddie Reyes (guitar) to play bass, and even that was meant as a joke. But then Lazzara jumped at the chance, moving out to Bellmore the following week.

As fate would have it, taking over as bassist and backing vocalist to fill a vacancy left by Jesse Lacey only lasted a few months. When Antonio Logo was the next to go after the release of their debut EP, Reyes asked Lazzara to become the lead vocalist.

A little more than a decade later, Lazzara has proven himself to be one of the most dynamic and evolving vocalists on the alternative rock/emo scene. Listening to him on the band's debut verses the band's self-titled LP in 2010 captures a transformation, just nowhere near as outstanding as his first solo debut put out at late last year.

Adam Lazzara debuts Because It Works on a 4-track EP sleeper. 

Released as a concept EP produced by I Surrender Records, Our Voices features four solo tracks by four members of influential punk and indie bands. Lazzara landed the lead position and was then captured by director Shamus Coneys for a video that Rolling Stone broke between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

The solo debut isn't anything like anyone would expect from the frontman of Taking Back Sunday. He trades in his familiar angst for a laid back confidence and then sets it adrift to a perfectly arranged alternative folk rock song. Because It Works is a promising debut for a future solo side project.

While punk and emo fans will likely pass on what many consider done-to-death acoustic showcases (so their favorite frontmen can prove they aren't just "emo guys"), Because It Works could easily appeal to a very different audience. No, the track doesn't break any new ground, but it does capitalize on the singer's increasingly worn and weary voice.

Three more tracks from singers and musicians on their own.  

The three other artists featured on Our Voices include Anthony Raneri (Bayside), Christopher Conley (Saves The Day), and Vinnie Caruana (I Am The Avalanche). The EP was conceived as an opportunity for the artists to step out of their stylistic boxes. There were no guidelines or expectations.

Raneri delivered an odd novelty pop ditty, String Me Along. Conley, who previously released solo material on a three-way split, sticks with his minimalist pop staccato on a track called Diamonds & White Gold. Caruana does something similar, contributing Sick Down To My Heart in a style similar to his solo City By The Sea EP.

Of the four, Lazzara provides the biggest departure while Caruana delivers a continuation of an already promising solo career. His songwriting and lyrical work is always compelling no matter how he delivers it. But I'll take his harsh vocals crooning over a six-string acoustic any day.

Raneri, in my opinion, would have been better off contributing something in the vein of  his New Cathedrals EP. And I have never felt settled on the solo direction Conley wants to set. Even so, I Surrender Records deserves some props for encouraging these artists to explore their options.

Because It Works By Adam Lazzara Works 5.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Lazzara likely gets a bit more attention on Our Voices because it is his solo debut whereas the other three artists have released material on their own before. He clearly has a shot as an alternative country or alternative folk rock singer if he wants to take it in that direction. Conversely, Caruana has already established something that people will hunt for in a few years.

Our Voices was originally released in late November by I Surrender Records as a limited edition vinyl collection that has since sold out. The EP is available for download on iTunes. I Surrender Records Presents: Our Voices can also be found on Amazon.
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