In 1512, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel got blessed with Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ on its ceiling. A depiction of god giving life to the first man. In 2022, our favorite streaming platforms were decorated with Echo Strike’s latest LP titled ‘Can’t Do Anything Right’, the 4th full album of the Indie Pop/Rock band that has occupied the Sanctum before and not without reason. Here we have frontman Randy posing like Adam, receiving a pack of cigarettes instead of life, provocatively lying inside a bathtub. The tiles behind him compose the actual fresco by Michelangelo creating an intriguing -even controversial- contrast between the earthly and the divine. The game the band is playing is so ingenious that I wouldn’t be surprised to see a third reenactment of the creation printed on the pack of cigarettes. Should we zoom in?
The line ‘Blood on my hands but I’m a good man’ opens the homonymous ‘Can’t Do Anything Right’ in a dark, melancholic tone by Randy singing over thick bass, fully aware of our flawed nature. And that by itself translates the cover art of the album if you ask me, even though I know there are more levels to it. The guitar is just as blue and the vibe here prepares the listener for an experience that feels a bit gloomier than what Echo Strike usually makes. I can see this one as the soundtrack of outcast characters like Jack and Ennis of Brokeback Mountain, maybe less dramatic. ‘Good As Gone’ is part of the same pattern of feeling unfitting or deprived, ideal for jamming while driving, disconnecting from whatever has gone wrong and can’t flourish back. If that’s not cinematic I don’t know what is. As the wind is blowing our hair and the memories hit hard, ‘Never Too Late’ starts playing and a smile shows on our face. Things get clearer and life goes on after all. If we let it that is. I see the nostalgically hopeful chords of ‘Never Too Late’ as a wink from the future saying that everything will be alright.
The following piece titled ‘In My Head’ feels like an actual piece of Randy’s heart, aching for salvation. An anthem for the heartbroken with a vocal performance that sounds unafraid to show vulnerability, with a guitar burning slowly, exorcising the ghost of lost love. The pain is universal, we’ve all been there. Small note: The exhale that opens the track contains the whole struggle in 2 seconds. ‘Lied Twice’ is one of those ‘Feel-good’ songs which, for me, are Echo Strike-signature. Let’s analyze that a bit. Lyrically, the band is -most of the time- not poetic or abstract but straightforward instead, so everyone can connect. There is nothing fancy about their writing. It’s all raw: Thoughts, emotions, behaviors, events, they are all written and spoken unfiltered. And that’s why it feels good. Because it’s real music from real people for real people. In ‘Lied Twice’, our faulty side is starring once more – ‘I lied, not once but twice’ and the temptation is always there. One more look at the cover will convince you.
‘Maze of doubt’ is one sassy motherf*cker with its staccato percussion and hard rock sound, undoubtedly the most intoxicating piece of this album so far. The line ‘Hey! Hey now! You gotta let me-let me out’ might stick with you for a while! The blistering beat and chords resemble the panic of a trapped mouse searching for an exit inside its maze. There’s a Rock n’ Roll aroma hiding somewhere in this ‘bad guy’ of a track and it’s so refreshing to witness the band exploring a variety of moods (more aggressive here) once more without losing its character. This one goes among my top3. The trio ‘Hello’, ‘Have Fun’ and ‘Open the Door’ makes for the most cohesive and ‘chill’ part up to this point. Fun, pop-driven, with no extremes in terms of performance or instrumental. The one is seamlessly flowing into the other and they all feel like one bridge keeping this body of work together. All three are generously blessed with the bright perspective of life that Echo Strike always strives for and I could easily enjoy them in their previous Dirty Clean Sexy Mean just as well. There are drops of funk and even hip hop in there, spicing things up before we are led to ‘Dagger’, which threw me back to the despair felt in ‘In My Head’ and the darkness of ‘Can’t Do Anything Right’. It’s an emotional output of betrayal, pain and realization – ‘I wanna cry but it ain’t worth my time’, ‘I think it’s time to say goodbye but baby, I gave it a try’. Maybe this goes in the most memorable moments for the simplicity of its expression is ear-grabbing to say the least.
‘Come Away With Me’ is so comforting that it could make an ideal closure for an album. Even though the story given by the band is more one of an infatuation, a flirt, I weirdly received that as the helping hand of our best friend saying there’s always potential even when it’s not obvious. Either way, this is another catchy, fast-paced gem to blast in the car next to ‘Good As Gone’. Not far from the end, the sound of ‘Hollow’ brings a green, youthful attitude that could be the soundtrack of a -teenage love story- film -‘It’s true, I’m very new to the feeling I am going through’, ‘Why do I feel such pain? There seems to be no gain’. The lyrics support the concept of misunderstanding newfound feelings pretty well even if, in fact, it’s written about an adult relationship. We are forever exploring, forever learning after all. Oh! And some things we never learn! The tango-vibed melody lying under the rock veil that covers ‘Rest My Case’ is among the most jaw-dropping moments I’ve personally come across. That’s genre-blending at its finest and it will have you coming back to ‘investigate’ what’s going on in each layer of it. Splendid!
The most poetic entry of the album is titled ‘Reset My Soul’ and is the sweetest ‘sorry’ one could offer their partner asking for a second chance. A ballad about love and regret where Randy sounds most fragile yet powerful enough to show his weakness and repentance. His emotional state reaches its peak here and now we know he saved the best for last. Even though I don’t believe in second chances when it comes to love, Randy’s tone convinced me otherwise for 4 and a half minutes.
I won’t repeat myself talking about how this band is mastering genre-blending, especially as an Indie Pop/Rock band, a label that is usually the king of stereotypes. I won’t say about their cohesiveness, professionalism and loyalty in what they do (even if I just said that). Let’s get serious. Can’t Do Anything Right is next-level Echo Strike, and even though it will sound like natural evolution to the ones familiar with their music, it still feels like a large step in their journey and an even larger stone on the legacy they are building. Aging like fine wine. Once more, Bravo!
Enjoy Can’t Do Anything Right here:
In 1512, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel got blessed with Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ on its ceiling. A depiction of god giving life to the first man. In 2022, our favorite streaming platforms were decorated with Echo Strike’s latest LP titled ‘Can’t Do Anything Right’, the 4th full album of the ...