One summer OceanEcho, a piano rock band from Cincinnati, OH, united with one mission: load a free piano from Craigslist into a house. Their plan failed; the piano didn’t make it pass the front porch. Their faulty journey did have a happy ending: it forced the friends to further examine their musical gifts. By the end of that summer, OceanEcho formed with Michael Guarente as the lead singer and keyboardist, John Appeldorn as guitarist and bass player, and Mike Franzosa as drummer.
OceanEcho’s first EP Nautilus explores the depths and peaks of the piano, drums, and guitar. The band credits Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Folds Five, Bruce Hornsby, Randy Newman and George Winston as being very influential in the making of this album. So the band’s sound has rock, pop, contemporary, and alternative all painted with the delicate touch of the instruments.
Due to OceanEcho’s fearless approach to certain tones, Nautilus has a youthful playfulness. Every song runs, dashes, glides, and crashes with their overall upbeat nature. The only track that’s a bit more somber than the rest is “Rhetoric.” The tracks’ sophisticated lyrics give the EP a bit of intrigue and admiration. Some songs on Nautilus have spontaneous natures, like “Nautilus,” while others have distinct narratives, such as “Amnesia,” which keeps the album from becoming predictable.
“Amnesia” and “Vandalia” tell the clearest narratives. “Amnesia” tackles lost love and faded memories while being very catchy. Ben Fold’s influence comes across the strongest in this track. “Vandalia” gives the piano its sunlight through a lot of mini-piano solos. The theme of rebellion and reckless youth blast and shout in this track.
Nautilus’ lyrics really pop and grab listeners, but the EP’s gold lies in OceanEcho’s advance instrumental skills; each song has a focused, crisp, evolving sound. Guarente’s dramatic vocals give these songs a life similar to that of a lead in a rock opera or musical.
Overall, Nautilus feels like a long letter about one specific location, time, and person’s life. It’s personal in the same way a movie based on a childhood memories is. Listeners understand the story being told, but to really touch it, they need the personal attachment that only happen if it’s your story. This adds to the gripping nature of Nautilus and OceanEcho’s style. OceanEcho’s storytelling abilities and impressive instrumental skills, makes me excited to see what they produce next.
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