Hearing Aide: TIP ‘Full Swing’

Back with their second full length album is Albany based TIP. They’re an alternative rock group that skips across congruous genres, creating another in depth, unique collection worth diving into. Chris Caimano, Conor McDonald, Mike Cesario, Terence McDonald shared the responsibility of writing songs on their release Full Swing, while also constantly switching instruments, which would explain the eclectic styles we see across the album. In an interview with CT Verses, the band explains their intentions for the album and their goals to grow as a band. “We are constantly riding the line between trying to improv but also (try) not to lose the power of the song.” said Chris Caimano. In this album, it seems like they have found a good balance between those two sides of music, and it pays off. 

Throughout this album, we hear a number of different influences that pair perfectly with their instrumentation. The groups pulls influence from Steely Dan, (“the best pop band that ever lived,” according to Caimano), The Beatles, John Mayer and James Brown. In their interview, they spoke so passionately when it came to who inspired them. Surprisingly, the iconic sounds of their beloved influences do not come through in an obvious way. They manage to be original and unique, a sign of an impressive group and an even more impressive album. 

Throughout the album, the group flaunts their ability to be powerful but reserved, thanks to their instrumentation. We see this on “Five Becomes Seven,” “Canadian Coins” and “Me & My Girl.” Their tone is a little gritty, their time signatures are unique and their tone is ever-flowing. But their songs have power, direction and energy, without overwhelming the listener with overly-abstract tones ideas. And most importantly, they create a space for improvisation. But the licks that lead them to that space are unique and graspable, ensuring that they don’t “lose the power of the song” that Caimano had mentioned. 

“Lavender Burns” is their jam-heavy hit that has lots of potential to blow people away on stage. The group creates a mysterious but comfortable space that could go absolutely anywhere. On the record, this song is reserved and a bit predictable but has a lot of live potential. As straightforward as it is, there are still some delicious layers laced within the track that make it spectacular. 

“Caravan” is a straight up flex and a testament to their skills as musicians. This is a cover of a song written by Duke Elington in 1937. It became a jazz standard over the years and was widely recognized as a song that changed the rules of jazz, due to its avant garde times signatures and key changes. So it only makes sense for TIP to go off and create their very own, remarkable version of their own. It’s rocking, it’s dissonant, it’s edgy – it’s awesome. 

“Spreading Mud” is their example of how they execute acoustic grunge. It almost sounds like a missing track from Alice in Chains’ Unplugged album – and illusion sold by the unbelievable vocal harmonizations on this track. It’s hard to give credit to the singer, because they whole groups shares the mic throughout the album – regardless, it works and it makes for an ethereal track with an ebb and flow of tones and attitudes. 

This whole album is like an open world for listeners to explore. There are layers and layers of sounds and events in each track that give it depth and replay-ability, that will hopefully shoot TIP into the limelight. But once again, we stumble upon a band that would really flourish in a live setting. Each track is a launching pad into an improvisational wonderland of opportunities. Hopefully, we will get to witness them soon. Find the album on all major streaming platforms, or here for a list of their information.

Key Tracks: Canadian Coins, Brainfreeze, Spreading Mud

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