SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2017
Looking at the cover of Acting Natural’s self-titled debut EP, it’s easy to guess this trio was influenced by The Beatles. And of course the band’s name makes me think of the Buck Owens song “Act Naturally,” which was famously covered by The Beatles in 1965, with Ringo Starr on lead vocals. And, sure, The Beatles are among this young group’s influences. But they’re not trying to copy that band, and their sound takes inspiration from other places and other decades than the 1960s. They possess a good sense of fun, and they seem to have given a good deal of attention to getting the vocals just right. The band is made up of Eric Carnevale on vocals, guitar, piano, organ and percussion; James David Maney on bass and vocals; and Jesse Leonard on drums and vocals. Originally from Tampa, Florida, they are now based in New York.
The CD’s opening track, “The One,” has a distinct 1960s pop rock sound, both in the music and in the vocal delivery, especially in the way they harmonize. But it is not an attempt to imitate a particular sound, but rather it shows a mix of influences. For example, the cool bass line has a more contemporary feel. And partway through, the song takes on a different groove for an interesting bridge. The lyrics are fairly straightforward: “I don’t wanna play games/I don’t wanna be the fool/I just wanna be the one for you.” And who doesn’t want to hear that? That’s followed by “Nicole,” which has a mellower pop sound. This one has more of a 1980s thing happening, particularly in the chorus.
For me, this EP starts to really get going with “Pairadice,” a fun and catchy tune, its title obviously a play on the word “paradise” – that love is both a glorious thing and a gamble. They play on that idea throughout, with lines like “You can’t win every time” and “Sometimes I think I must have lost my mind.” But it’s the sound of this one that really makes it a memorable track, with elements of disco and a catchy vocal line in the chorus. It’s ultimately a positive-sounding tune. As good as it is, it’s the following track, “Bloom,” that is my personal favorite. This one has a sweeter folk-pop vibe that is absolutely wonderful. And check out the opening lines: “Oh, the snow, the birds and the bees/And the gin and the weed and the love.” I love how they start to establish a sort of cheesy vibe with that first line, “the birds and the bees,” then immediately work against that with the second line, which is a continuation of the thought, but in a more realistic direction. “The years tick by/The toys and the bikes and the games/And the spies, they just don’t shine like they used to/Holidays just aren’t the same.” This is a really good song.
“Early Morning,” to my ears, has the most obvious nod to The Beatles in its sound. “Left my heart open like a door that I kept cracked/Just for you.” The EP then concludes with a fun, solid rock song titled “Missed The Train.” “I missed the train/Wondered why I came/Addicted to the pain/In every memory that we made.” And I love that lead on guitar in the second half of the song.
CD Track List
- The One
- Early Morning
- Missed The Train
Acting Natural was released on CD on October 27, 2017. It was released digitally on September 22nd.