Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Local Spotlight: Roman Traffic at the Middle East

On August 28, 2009, I had the pleasure of catching Roman Traffic (formally Gravehaven) at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, MA. I had known the guys in the band for awhile and while it is strange to think of them as anything but Gravehaven, the music is quality nonetheless. I first met the group when I did a review of their debut EP Perceptions for the Colorblind for Decoymusic which you can read here. After that I was fortunately enough to produce a track with them called "Breach" as a recording project for a class I took at Northeastern University. The guys were super nice as well as easy to work with and I am proud to say that the track came out great. As a little shameless promotion, I am including a link to it below. Be gentle, it was my first attempt at producing.


The band had quite the introduction with someone reading a statement off of a piece of paper stating, "If your ears were pussies, they should be wet with anticipation because they are about to get fucked harder than ever." I'm sure it at least got everyone's attention. Since I last saw them, more had happened than a simple name change. The group has become a more proficient live band as well, expanding their sound from what it once was and adding new elements to keep everything interesting. The new material sounded great live and showed a band that was maturating into a more cohesive unit. The duel guitars provided by Alex Brahms and Evan Crisman laid a solid foundation while play off each other nicely and lending to their post-punk meets prog-rock sound. Songs such as "Acquired Attire" displayed Benjamin Grenville's progression as a singer along with him also playing a bigger role by contributing synth and even utilizing a megaphone in one song. The band's live performance is best exemplified when they detonate into an all out rock moment with drummer Matt Arsenault going off as if he has six arms while bassist Steve Hart holds it all together with thick, rumbling bass lines. In the end, they had proven that can put on a show and it can only get better from here. Make sure to give their latest songs "Halls & Butchered Columns" and "Acquired Attire" a listen at their website. You can also download "Halls & Butchered Columns" here.

The Vital Might opened for Roman Traffic and I was immediately impressed by their rhythm section. The bassist and drummer had great chemistry and really jammed well together. The vocals and guitars were hit or miss for me. Songs like "Saturday" successfully roped the audience in with spacey guitars and an appealing chorus while also ending encouragingly with a burst of energy. When they played slower material, it came off as cheesy and sounded like a less advantageous version of Incubus. The group also worked an excellent cover of "Billie Jean" into their set as an admirable homage to the late Michael Jackson. The harder songs presented a band that was forceful and captivating so hopefully they key more on that in their songwriting for the future. Get some of their songs for free including "Saturday" at their website.

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