The Crooked, a Mississauga- Toronto-based alternative rock band, has managed to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Since the band’s inception in 2017, band mates J.C. Sandoval (vocals, guitar), Dell ‘Orso (drums), Neelesh Vasistha (lead guitar) and Russ Shipman (bass) have caused quite the commotion gigging around Toronto — playing shows at renowned venues like Lee’s Palace, The Phoenix, and The Mod Club. In February, The Crooked released their debut EP, titled The Shoebox Sessions, and now, in the same year, they will be releasing a second EP on Oct. 4.
The five-track First Place Silver EP is the result of 16 months of toiling at Sound Lens Recording & Gummy Bear Music. First Place Silver is alternative rock at its roots, but it’s the band’s ability to weave far ranging musical styles — seamlessly transitioning into grungy, funky to down-right groovy sounds — while still remaining cohesive at the same time that makes the songs on the album stand out.
First Place Silver opens with “Dog Days” (the EP’s lead single) containing anthem-like vocals that soar over groovy guitar riffs and bass licks. Rambunctious, driving drum rolls follow along, regularly becoming restrained, but only momentarily, before kicking back in again, seemingly louder and faster. “Empathy,” a melodic and slowed-down track follows. It begins with a steady drum beat that swells as more instruments jump in. Occasionally, the song breaks down into periods of calm, allowing for the vocals to really shine, before the instruments pick back up again. My favourite section is when an acoustic guitar makes an appearance for a couple of bars, pairing well with Sandoval’s clean, crisp vocals.
Booming drum rolls excel while, towards the end, heavy guitar riffings excite in “Watch Me Burn,” perhaps the most straightforward alternative rock-based track on the album. It too is very melodic at times. Similarly, “Luxury Prison” features almost four minutes of washed-out guitars, alternative sound and head-bobbing grooves. The album concludes with the upbeat and lively “I Didn’t Know.” With funky bass lines and loopy riffs, it’s got a sound that listeners can dance to.
First Place Silver proves to be a dynamic and versatile enough foray into music. On their second go-around, The Crooked’s musical dexterity continues to flourish and I look forward to hearing more from the band in the years to come.
The Crooked will be heading out on tour with dates across Ontario and Quebec. Catch them at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on Oct. 4, the Bar Fly in Montreal on Oct. 5, Cafe Dekcuf in Ottawa on Oct. 6, Basin Fest in Montreal on Oct. 11, The Red Dog in Peterborough on Oct. 12, and, lastly, The Foxx Lounge in Barrie on Oct. 13.
For more information about The Crooked check out the following links:
Bandcamp: The Crooked