Leave An Impression is reviewed in the March 2008 issue of Origivation Magazine!!
Album review by Dominic Nicosia
This is how you should read it (emphasis added by me) :
Razor-thin tones. Bad kind of straining vocal. Interesting structure. Straight forward. Vocal are almost intolerable. Tight execution. Sounds like he's singing in the shower. Honest crack at sarcastic love songs, doesn't really quite get there. Nice sense of autobiography. Not something nice to listen to. There's really no reason too. This kind of thing has been done with a lot more polish. I think Oberlin is better off writing prose than song. His lyrics are quite interesting. To be fair there are some buds of solid writing on the record. Not nearly enough to make me like it.
What is Origivation Magazine, and who is Dominic Nicosia? Well, Origivation is a local music 'zine in the Philly area (that now covers a larger portion of the state and the entire Delaware Valley as well as some national acts). It started as a thin B&W rag in December of 2001 and expanded into some color cover printing and thickened up quite nicely, with a hefty amount of local advertising and a healthy dose of band interviews & profiles and CD reviews. They make great t-shirts, too! (I bought one a few years ago, it says "Support Original Music"). The journalism is hit-and-miss (Rolling Stone, this is not) and they try a little too hard to be funny sometimes, but I pick it up and read it on a regular basis. There's usually a piece on a band I know or have heard of and lots of other stuff on bands I'm not familiar with and maybe should be. They've published almost every month for over 6 years and they claim a circulation of 10,000 copies being distributed monthly. Dominic Nicosia is the editor of the magazine and has only been in the hot seat for about 6 months, but their website says he's "spent years writing for music publications across the east coast." He edits, contributes stories and writes *every* CD review. With anywhere from 8-15 reviews every issue, he obviously listens to a lot of records, but other than that it's hard to tell exactly what his credentials are. He generally seems to find something good to say about a record if it's not horrible, even if he doesn't really like it (regardless of genre). He's probably heard more CDs in the past 6 months than I have, which is saying a lot, so he's gotta have a pretty good idea of the quality of the local scene.
He's obviously not a grammar/spelling freak (this he readily admits). Errors aside, I was frankly pretty excited to have my record reviewed by Origivation. It was actually published! I sent it in not really expecting it to be reviewed, so it was awful nice of them to even print it. It might have helped that I sent in a boatload of free zoo passes as a bribe (with a note that said "staff field trip!"). We only got two stars, but that's cool. It's not the worst rating they've given (I checked!) and I'm just some schlub in his early 30's who can't sing, making low-fi recordings with fake drums, a couple guitars and a microphone on a 10-track recorder in his house. Ben Harper's last record only got 2 1/2 stars! We're only half a star behind BEN HARPER. That's totally kick-ass. (I would agree, Ben Harper's last THREE records have sucked.) But still!
Let's break this thing down and totally over-analyze it, shall we?
"Razor-thin tones." - Yep. It's a 10-track recorder with built-in amplifier effects and a drum machine, a $100 mic and one nice guitar. Recorded in my basement. It's not hi-fi.
"Bad kind of straining vocal." - Well, OK. I can't sing. I may strain. I don't know if I'd say it's actually bad.
"Interesting structure." - Sweetness! Thanks for noticing. I make a conscious effort to mess with song structures. Hell, hardly any of my songs really have a discernable "chorus", and even if it does it might be repeated twice, and even if it's repeated it might be slightly different in each subsequent turn.
"Straight forward." - Right on. I stayed away from many vocal or guitar effects. It is what it is.
"Vocal are almost intolerable." - Yeah, I heard you before when you said "bad". Thanks.
"Tight execution." - This reminds me of something you say when you're fishing for a compliment. I think he means it all sounds relatively precise, and I think I do have good rhythm (and a digital drum machine with built-in metronome).
"Sounds like he's singing in the shower." - I guess that's a knock on my voice AND production, simultaneously! Actually, I sound even worse in the shower. I don't harmonize well with running water.
"Honest crack at sarcastic love songs, doesn't really quite get there." - Well, thanks... I guess. Thanks for detecting the sarcasm, but I don't think I would call any of those "love" songs. They *are* honest! Right on!
"Nice sense of autobiography." - Hells yeah! I really appreciate that. Sounds like he's coming around.
"Not something nice to listen to. There's really no reason too." - All right, well was that really necessary? Bad spelling and all. You had to go and say something nice and then totally destroy me!
"This kind of thing has been done with a lot more polish." - I would agree with that. Polish is expensive.
"I think Oberlin is better off writing prose than song." - A backhanded compliment? I think he's saying I'm good with words. Holy shit, did he just mention me by name?! 10,000 people just read my last name! I'm famous!
"His lyrics are quite interesting." - Fuck yeah, they are! This makes me giddy, because I spend a lot of time and effort working on lyrics, it's how I got into songwriting and what I take the most pride in. This made my week.
"To be fair there are some buds of solid writing on the record." - Hells bells yeah! That's *writing*, not just lyrics. I feel like I was born to write songs, even if I can't sing and can't really play guitar very well. Thanks, dude.
"Not nearly enough to make me like it." - Fuck, you had to end it like that? You had me at "intolerable".
Feel free to pick up a copy of this righteous free publication at a record/music store or music venue near you. Or you can download a free copy from their website.