Electric lights. Leather jackets. Slicked back hair, a red electric guitar, and a nostalgia that no other genre can match. These are all the images that may flash through your eyes when you hear the opening guitar riff on the album “Scott Martin and the Grand Disaster.” This indie rock band, just signed to Spectra Records, delivers us a debut record that has the feel of an instant classic.
The album starts off with their single, “Head Over Heels,” that was released prior to the LP. This song features a catchy electric guitar riff, the riveting voice of lead singer Scott Martin, and a key change halfway through that brings us back to classic rock and roll. This song is an upbeat introduction for what is sure to be a unique album.
Next, the band leads us into “Rock N’ Roll Heart.” This song, which seems to match its title with a retro drum beat and a singing style common of rock n’ roll in decades past, is a clear indicator of the band’s goal to infuse nostalgia with this album. Scott Martin delivers lyrics such as “Please don’t break my rock n’ roll heart” with power and emotion to his voice, and the rest of the band backs it up with an upbeat melody.
The third track on this LP is titled “Crazy Little Love Machine.” This love song has a well-crafted chorus that’s sure to get stuck in listeners’ heads. Also featured in this song are low guitar sweeps, a short guitar solo, and a bridge that showcases Scott Martin’s belting vocal power.
The band slows it down a bit with “Bringing Hollywood Back to Life.” The guitar power chords throughout the song still give us that important taste of the genre, however. group brings us their longest song on the LP next, “Mexico,” opening with a soft piano solo, then mirroring the piano melody with the electric guitar. It’s always refreshing to see rock bands using instruments that aren’t always associated with the genre, such as piano. Another unique thing that Scott Martin and The Grand Disaster does in this song especially is the use of backing vocals to give a wide, sweeping sound to their vocal performance. Although many classic rock songs only feature a single vocal line, we don’t think the classic rock stars would be too upset at these rockers’ use of newer techniques to bulk up the song in a very satisfying way.
“Jet Black Heart” takes us on a bit more of a melancholy journey, as Scott Martin reflects on some experiences, such as a lost love, that have occurred due to his “Jet Black Heart.” This song packs a heavy punch, as we’re so used to the upbeat sound of the band by this point, that the sudden emotion in Scott Martin’s voice catches us off guard. It works very well, however, as we now can see some of the other songs in a new context, knowing some of Martin’s struggles in the past. “Old New York,” which features some interesting synthesizers, “SLO,” which gives us a more folk-like feel, and “Places,” which sends us off with a heavily-nostalgic dose of rock n’ roll, finish out the album.
Overall, this album feels important, both as the debut for the band, and for the genre of rock/rock n’ roll as a whole. “Scott Martin and The Grand Disaster” is a breath of fresh air in a world with countless songs that sometimes simply try to do too much. This is a band that knows what their style is, knows exactly how to perfect the classic feel that they hope to convey, and does it with some unique twists, too. It’s not too much or too little– just enough. The last lyric on the album, “Oh, the places you will go,” seems to be a good omen for the band. We hope to see them go countless places and do countless things with their unique and nostalgic music.
Reviewed by Zoe Wynns