Similar to: Matchbox Twenty, John Mayer, The Kooks, Jason Mraz, Third Eye Blind
Record Label: Independent
Overall Opinion: Positive
Genre: Hook Driven Radio Alt Rock
"'The Line Starts Here' is meant to signify how everything we do from here on out starts with this record." This is what Eric Quimby, vocals and guitar of Davison, Michigan's Syndicate told me recently. Right off the bat you get a sense of passion and seriousness from Quimby that most bands at their level in development lack. There is a professionalism to everything they do and nothing is halfway. It's something that a lot of bands either don't have or intentionally avoid.
The band features Quimby on lead vocals and guitar, Patrick Jenkinson on guitar, Chris Keller on bass, Jake Rathbun on drums, and Brandon Mansell on keyboard. The first thing anyone would notice about Syndicate is Quimby's phenomenal voice. It's a bit of a whiskey tenor with grandiose rock tenancies. The tone is clean but still very soulful as he effortlessly does vocal back flips through the melodies like they're his personal playground. '
When you listen past the voice and lyrics you'll hear the gorgeous guitar taking the melodies in directions you didn't expect them to go. Syndicate are a band who wear their influences on their sleeve like a badge of honor, mixing and matching the sounds that inspire them. The tightrope artwork on the cover of "The Line Starts Here" is fitting... they walk the line between paying homage and being unique, beautifully. In the guitar you hear the clean blues of John Mayer and The Kooks as it mixes effortlessly with the naturally distorted chords of radio alternative groups like Matchbox Twenty. In songs like "Hypnotized" you can hear the beautiful crunch and "wah" of Machbox Twenty songs like "Disease". Also I'll just say it... if "Criminal" isn't the Jason Mraz hit that he never recorded I don't know what is.
In the bass and drum you'll hear a perfect two man team in Keller and Rathbun. To the non-musical ear the bass player is essentially the rope that ties the drummer's rhythm to the guitar's melody and Keller plays that role perfect doing exactly what is needed to connect the two. On songs like "Criminal" you hear the perfect laid back groove between drum and bass carrying the song through it's relaxed vibe. In "The Breakdown" you hear the bass rocketing along with the frantic guitar. The bass is arguably at it's best in "Hypnotized" though, where it thumps it's own distinctive leads behind the guitar in the verses before gliding effortlessly into the highly melodic choruses.
Do I think that "The Line Starts Here" is a perfect record? Of course not. Achieving perfection is boring. What you hear on this album is a band launching out of the gate like an animal ready to take on anything. I think that Syndicate said it best in "Crazy Tonight", the record's opening track... "doesn't matter what's wrong... all that matters is what feels right."
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Buy the record on Amazon or iTunes