As a CD reviewer, I need to express my opinion as a “critic,” but I also realize the review is just that, an opinion. When I am not enamored of a musician’s art, my biggest challenge is to provoke the artist to utilize his or her gift, not enable them to lay stagnant so they become apathetic to the process of recording.
In the case of Mellow Endeavor, a jam band from Bangor that just released its debut CD, “All the Paths Lead Home,” I was let down. It sounded a bit naive and amateurish, and even though the songs were all cheery-type Gin Blossom/Grateful Dead-like tunes, it lacked originality in the worst way.
On the other hand, I could envision them playing live shows and being able to entertain a crowd for a while. The songs were all so much the same that I could not really differentiate between them, but they all had an upbeat feeling and conveyed a fun spirit. The good news is they were catchy enough, with some fun vocal harmonies and poppy drum beats.
Mellow Endeavor recorded the CD live in a effort to avoid deviating from how it actually sounds.
But when you have the chance to record in a studio, it’s best that you take those tools and use them to your advantage.
The vocals could have really used some wetness, as they were dry and uncomfortable-sounding — too dry for the live sound, where you can’t really get away with hitting bad notes. The cajon drum in the background sounds like an annoying flat metronome, with the same stylistic beats played in just about every song. Again, it probably sounds better live.
The guitar playing was affable, and the leads were happy-sounding — all the time. If you like that type of guitar playing, this is for you. For me, it got tiresome.
In the end, I will give these boys the benefit of the doubt, as it is their debut and they are still learning. Next time around in the recording studio, though, I’d advise them to take a little more time to perfect the sound a bit — not making “perfect music,” but a sound that fits them and their vibe. And I’d love to see them take some chances.
You can catch Mellow Endeavor’s CD-release party at 8 p.m. May 3 at the American Legion Hall in Houlton. Wyatt Hartin and Ben Walker will also perform.
Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a freelance writer.