I've often been accused of being extremely cynical when reviewing major artists. Negativity is a major aspect of my life, and it's one I participate in on a day to day basis. Moaning and complaining are every five minutes means I have a rather annoyed girlfriend. And as Johnny Rotten quite bluntly put it, "Anger is an energy." There's a major difference between critiquing newly formed adventurous bands and well established bands. We're talking about constructive criticism... Apposed to my typical destructive cynicism.
Today we're looking at March Forth, a laddish band with serious characteristics. Formed in Ontario Canada, they cite Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam as influences. The first thing I noticed when listening to this EP, was the hilarity of the lyrics. Not many bands introduce humour into their music, whilst keeping the seriousness behind it. They have a Facebook page, Last.fm, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Twitter, MySpace, Reverbnation, Tumblr, YouTube account and a promotion website. That’s pretty good going for a band with one other EP under their belt. They've taken the previous 'rap-rock' out of the format and focused on sounding retro, whilst keeping all the popular mod cons. 'Lady For The Night' opens with a rhythm guitar riff and the electric guitar soars on top of that. The bass needs to be tweaked and pumped up just a little to fill the void space. Singer Anthony D'Elia sounds marvellous live, but on this EP and especially this track, the vocal comes across thin and ultimately weak. The drumming could also be tweaked, but with funds being (what I presume) slim, recording and production are always going to be a problem. I'm sure if Steve Albini was in the studio, this would sound 10x better, without a doubt. I'm not knocking their skill level; it’s the recording that sounds standard. The final verse to this song features the most outrageous and hilarious lyrics on the EP, "Quarter past two, it's getting late, gotta make a move right now. I know what I got to do, I just don't know how. " Here we have Anthony questioning his confidence, but we know what’s coming... "So I man up, stand up, walk to her, say 'girl, how you like your eggs?'. What I meant to say was, 'lady, wanna spread your legs?'." Cue the awkward smile by Moiez.
'Backseat Bingo' is a major structural improvement over Lady For The Night. The bass is at perfect volume and sounds great, as does the drumming which is 50's/60's Chuck Berry-esque. Vocals have been taken care of, with screeches and random segments of 'ohhhhhhh' during the Led Zeppelin breakdown. I have to give it to them; they manage to sound modern even with the instrumentation sounding aged and common. Eddie C. Lanes is the man behind guitar, and what a fantastic job he's done on this track. 'Careful What You're Wishing For' isn’t as strong as the previous few. Lyrically it's too stark, and musically it's far too empty. The drumming standout, as does the left sided guitar solo towards the end. Too many breaks and changes can clutter a track, and that’s what happens here. It's sounding messy, take out some of the harsh left sided guitar, and introduce smoother bass. The vocals don't cut it for me on this track. I'm not sure what's happened, but the verses are far too quiet and predictable, whilst the loud vocal at 2.15 needs throwing out.
This EP shows future resilience and commitment to a direction. The final track 'Shades of Grey in F#m' has lovely guitar work at the beginning and very aggressive guitar work towards the end. The bass is strong and sounds a little heavy; it clogs the sound a little too much and obscures the drumming. The drumming really does need to be recorded differently lads, it's far too soft and becomes minimalized by the bass in the final mix. Guitar work is sounding smooth in most places, sharp in others, but the left/right twinges work a treat.
Toronto is a good place to be for an upcoming band. Education has served these four lads well; internet has served them even better. This four track EP can be used as a starting point to look ahead at the next EP, then the next and the next. Because March Forth, I can tell you now, this sound won't be picked up by any record label soon. Sure, some guitar work here is great, lyrics can come across as unappealing at times, but for the most they're intelligent and progressive. Practise does make perfect, and you learn from your experiences, both positive and negative. March Forth needs to be challenged with following releases to step outside the box and deliver something more inventive and innovative. This is a respective EP with a few decent tracks that will be enjoyed by both March Forth and the audience who are lucky enough to see them live. Take what you have, and move forward.