Tuesday, March 26, 2013

album review: christopher key cash

Artist: Christopher Key Cash
Album: Routine or Adventure – EP
Release Date: March 17, 2013
Genre: Alt-Pop with a Folksy Twist
Buyit on Amazon

What’s it sound like: Your favorite song. Cash cites KT Tunstall and Ed Sheeran on his ReverbNation profile as his “Sounds Like,” but that doesn’t do it justice.  Cash manages to take the best parts of ALL of his influences and combine them into a sound all his own. It’s like an alt/folk rock Frankenstein with a heart of gold. One that you want to take on a car ride with the windows down and the music up and one foot out the window.

Full disclosure, I have known and been a fan of this kid for the better part of a decade.  You know how those dumb reality TV singing competitions talk about that “It Factor” that just can’t be explained?  Cash has got It.  It’s a combination of talent (which he has coming out his ears) and a certain charm and natural ease that makes for a great performer. (I think it was the same sort of je ne sais quoi that got Clinton elected President, I’m just saying.)

The first time I heard Cash perform was in 2005 at an all-dude beauty pageant at our alma mater called Greek God, where guys from the Greek system tried to out-hot each other with public displays of abdomens.  Like most beauty pageants, it featured the standard rounds: interview, swimsuit, formal wear, and talent. Every other contestant basically just stripped down and flexed for their “talent.” And then out comes this short, shaggy haired blonde kid with a guitar. He sang an original song called “Beer Goggles” and brought the auditorium down. 


What “Routine or Adventure” lacks in “Beer Goggles” goofiness, it makes up for with a polished sound and songs you can relate to.  The title track is for us, the 20-somethings who are trying to decide what being “grown-up” really means. Is it better to “have it all together” and know what each day is going to look like, or should we trade that in for the excitement of the unknown?  Cash asks “Is love found in routine or adventure?” He doesn’t give you the answer (probably because the answer is different for everyone), but the song sounds so hopeful that you know that, with this EP, he’s choosing the adventure.  

“Burn Party (Memory to You)” is the up-tempo break-up song Taylor Swift wishes she could write.  It’s a very matter-of-a-fact “Middle Finger & I’m Outta Here” type of song that could probably benefit from a little more aggression vocally.   The song lands like a slap across the face instead of a kick to the gut – it gets the point across, but maybe not as forcefully as Cash intended. (Also, author’s note/disclaimer: Domestic violence is never okay and all slaps and kicks should ALWAYS be completely metaphorical, preferably delivered via a song like this.)

My favorite track is “If I Were Here,” which sounds like the love child of Counting Crows, Foo Fighters, and Margot & the Nuclear So-and-So’s.  The song alternates between a fun little piano melody during the verses and a powerful guitar riff following the chorus of this hero song about actions speaking louder than words. It all culminates at the end of the song into what I believe is, technically speaking, “some sweet licks” (yes I know I sound ridiculous saying that – BUT THAT’S WHAT IT IS!).

So my honest opinion?  Get it.  Put it in your iPod.  Listen to it often.  If you can, catch a show and see what I’m talking about.  You won’t regret it.  Big things are on the horizon for Chris Cash, and you better tap into it now so you can get that hipster “I heard it first” street cred later.

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