Captiva, a four piece alt. rock band from Kansas City (not to be confused with the trance act of the same name), graced our ears with their eponymous EP in late December. The fledgling band are JJ Ries (vox, guitar), Pat McQuaid (guitar, vox), Nick Riffle (bass), and Hank Wiedel (drums) and we’re told that they got together in October 2013 during a high school detention. Gigging while still students, they gained attention playing campuses in the Midwest and since that, they have played a number of festivals including the illustrious SXSW last year.
The Captiva EP comprises of four tracks, Chemicals, Stimulating Freeze, Road to Ruin and Sometimes. From the off their music is rife with British alt. rock influences. Their soft yet powerful vocals, wah-wah guitars and funk driven bass lines make them sound like the bastard love child of Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks.Their lyrics are more serious and less playful than the former and bass lines less clean than the latter. The overall effect of which is a familiar and comfortable sound that fans of either will undoubtedly enjoy.
Chemicals sounds as though it was lifted for A.M’s debut album. It’s a good track and keeps and upbeat tempo until they slow things down for the finish, but this feels a little backward to me, but I always liked a big finish! The similarity to A.M. here may be a double edged sword as it’s an excellent, tried and tested formula but being such, not that exciting.
Stimulating Freeze opens with a pretty guitar riff and steady bass drum and the lyrics “A stimulating freeze makes it visible to breath, outside”. The steady rhythm is infectious and they change things up with some interesting bass and guitar fills full of sliding riffs. It’s a short number that leads the way to the funked up and stomping Road to Ruin.
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Road to Ruin sees a change of pace, speeding up their steady rhythm and filling their vocals with plenty of reverb it opens with a bass line that wouldn’t be out of place on a Kooks track. It ultimately winds up back with the AM styling, playful fills and breaks with powerful vocals at the chorus.
Sometimes opens with the line “Sometimes I take drugs when I’m alone, and it feels like a has been metronome”. While the drug references are cliche, the downbeat style of the track seems to suit them better and a little more of their individuality begins to seep through, in fact it’s the first time their vocals sound American. The track winds up into a psychedelic funk riff with a catchy set of oh-oh-oh’s for the bridge.
The EP as a whole is good, but Captiva’s material lacks individuality that could find them cast off before they get into the mainstream. If they find something more along the vane of “Sometimes” they will undoubtedly find success.