CD REVIEW: Polar Bear Referendum - My Latest Sincerity
By Cyrus Rhodes - 12/17/2014 - 12:24 PM EST
Artist: Band: Polar Bear Referendum
Album: My Latest Sincerity
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Electronc Rock and Dance Rock
Sounds Like: Jason Mraz, The Gorlilaz, Jamiroquai, Milky Chance, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck and The White St
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Good Idea, Diversity, Chemistry, Rainstorm Boogie, My Bad
Weakness: Short Sided Songs, Engineering Aspects (Recording, Mixing, Mastering)
Singer-songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist Ryan Thibodeaux combines Indie, Hiphop, Garage Rock, and New Orleans Funk influences for a lively, dynamic, and edgy new sound under the Polar Bear Referendum moniker. This latest installment was released in 2014. Influences include: Beck, Jack White and Soundgarden. This CD is divided into 4 sections of Acts. Act 1: Exposition, Act 2: The Plot Darkens, Act 3: The Enthusiastic Counter-Attack, Act 4 Conclusion. Members include: Ryan: lyrics, Thibs: guitar, Mr. Thibbs: keyboard/synth, RJ: bass, Tibbo-diesel: drums/percussion, Ry-Ry: vocals, Nayr: harmonica/mandolin, Tibby: harmonies/editing, Rhino: recording engineer/mixing, Ti-bo-de-ukz: arrangements/orchestration
The CD wastes no time getting off the ground with melodic intro piece “Hot Damn”. This song serves up infectious flunked out musical ambience against mesmerizing vocals, hypnotic guitar and grooving rock rhythm that confidently leads you by the hand down the path of soulful musical indulgence. Track 2 “Romantic Hallucinogen” shifts gears a bit with its methodical intro and impressive musical build to the chorus, intoxication guitar, inviting/soulful vibe and impressive keyboard accents. Track 3 “Good Idea” is an impressive hooky-blues piece that is full of musical peaks and valleys, impressive rhythm guitar that flow and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. By track 4 this CD hits solid stride delivering many impressive songs back to back. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of a classic Black Crowes however I can even hear brief flashes of The Gorlilaz, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck and The White Stripes. Other comparable artists: Lenny Kravitz, Jamiroquai, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Mr. Bungle and Milky Chance. I would classify this music as rocked out Jam Band Soul, Funkadelic Ska-Pop and Alternative College Rock with a fun and electrifying College Rock Flair. The CD at times presents brilliant peak and valley flow via an eccentric-good perspective that takes no prisoners. Besides the four piece standard you will also notice rich layers of rocked out Guitar, solo guitar, a few harmonies, and enticing keyboards and melodies - all built on a thick as a brick rhythm section. I really enjoyed the electronic beat variety. Vocalist Thibodeaux showcases an impressive and soulful singing skill set. He’s got good power and control. All other members play their parts well and as a whole the band just grooves together. Kudos goes out the mind-blowing vocals and impressive song to song groovability. All the musicianship and compositions are pretty solid across the board. Thibodeaux and the gang is clearly letting it all hang out via this latest release. All production aspects check out. CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. Thibodeaux has an effective baritone and his vocal risk-taking and overall touch behind the microphone is amazing. He really lets loose behind the microphone and clearly feel comfortable within his own skin. At times his voice reminds me of combination of Jack White and Jason Mraz. From heartfelt “Chemistry” to intoxicating “Rainstorm Boogie” and “my Bad” to upbeat “Be Clear (Now) to Psychedelic “Swamp Nite Lady, to melodic “Standing in the Rain” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 14 “Brandywine” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
All songs under 3 minutes feel like incomplete statements to me. Some of the engineering as aspects sound a bit off kilter (Recording, Mixing, and Mastering). I would wager the CD was Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by the same individual. Typically you want a separate engineer assigned to each production phase to get the most out of your sound and the greatest perspective. There are a few very minor timing blemishes here and there. Much of the above is par for the course for a DIY Production.
“My Latest Sincerity” Polar Bear Referendum is a compelling, rocking, soulful, melodic, musical journey. This surging band is clearly making waves around Louisiana for a reason. Their strong suit is their amazing songwriters touch and musical finesse song for song. There isn't a weak song on this entire 14 track set. Thibodeaux and the gang gets high marks from me for delivering a soulful rocked out CD, a rarity these day - nice touch. Despite its weaknesses Thibodeaux and company have captured lighting in a bottle and let me go on record to say this project has an enormous amount of potential if pushed in the right direction by an experienced producer. In many aspect this prophecy is a record deal waiting to happen and I’ve only said that a handful of times over the last 10 years. The music is diverse, grooving, upbeat, soulful and entertaining. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. This CD will be a real joy for those listeners out there who want an old school rock experience to fill their atmosphere. This straight forward, easy to digest musical format makes for a great musical experience many will enjoy. I recommend you just hit play, close your eyes and see where the journey takes you.
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