John Viviani’s latest incarnation is Blue Falcon, the Rochester guitarist/singer/songwriter teams with drummer/vocalist Devon Trammel and bassist/vocalist Ben Stephanus. First Flight, their debut EP was released last August and continues to garner critical acclaim across the Northeast, and here’s some more!
After reviewing Filthy Funk for this publication I knew I’d keep track of what John was up to musically, I couldn’t have asked for a better direction for him to take as he spun it right into my wheelhouse. A product of the irrepressible Rochester scene, John’s place as a guitarist is already well documented, Devon and Ben are held to the same high expectations and they don’t disappoint for a moment here. Add producer and engineer to John’s credits along with the able hands and ears of Nick Murray on the mix, mastering by Brian Moore at Redbooth Recording.
“Slow Drag” is a great choice as opener with each instrumentalist having space to put an initial signature on the EP, from John’s crunchy rhythm line and outro solo, to Devon and Ben holding tight to, then whipping the reigns, layer on the vocals and “Slow Drag” comes out of the gate fast. They ease in some funk on “Tellin’ Lies” while holding to the theme of pop/rock until they break out into almost a surf-rock break under John’s solo. The recurring vocal layering is thick and biting, quite the contrast from the sweetness most executions like this get. They take a collective swipe at the bane of American life, entitlement, in “Growing Up American”. Machine gun lyrical bites taken from daily existence, forced along by an STP-like aural assault and the hypnotic line, “Growin’ up American, Thinkin’ you are better than, Growin’ up American”. “Internet Celebrity” thematically follows, reaching deep into the pop-rock groove, right down to the low-fi mix, sugary vocals and killer chorus, almost sounds Bram Tchaikovsky-ish. I really think they should have credited Elvis a little on the jacket, but the adulation is obvious and really well-done. The closer, “See Ya Self” wraps it up cleanly and leaves this listener waiting for the next cut.
I hear a little familiar harmonization from The Zombies latest release, specifically “If There Was Any Other Way”, I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I’m a listener, not a musician. Extremely high praise to Blue Falcon for that, there’s always something comforting about familiarity, it makes the music accessible on another level. Hopefully the band’s name isn’t derived from some of the definitions available, but if it did, it was for the better! Check them out at the link below and see them live when you can, rock isn’t dead quite yet.
Key Tracks: Growing Up American, Internet Celebrity