Review: Basic Vacation

Review: Basic Vacation

Lushia Anson

Basic Vacation opened for Third Eye Blind at the 2013 University of Iowa Homecoming, and according to the news release, they were “ready to bring their feverish energy to the University of Iowa, performing relatable lyrics partnered with raw enthusiasm and a guitar-heavy ambiance.”

The up-and-coming band comprises of vocalist-guitarist Chris Greatti, bassist Jon Paul, and drummer Mike Montalbano, who, according to their website, have played in nearly a dozen previous bands between them. They define their music as “alternative pop-rock” or “indie-rock.” On Oct. 15, they released their debut EP, the self-titled “Basic Vacation,” which includes five tracks.

“I Believe” is the first track on the EP, and even though it’s their debut single, it doesn’t seem to be their strongest song. I just wasn’t feeling the “feverish energy” in this one. Although the message was uplifting, it was also a bit cliché, and the music came out sounding a little bit bland and background-music-ish rather than energetic. The chorus is also a bit repetitive, and honestly, it gets kind of boring after hearing “I believe, I believe, I believe, in me and you,” for what seems like the millionth time. They have also released a music video for the song, which I thought was pretty well-produced. There were some pretty cool video effects, like people flying and things randomly “exploding” (It wasn’t as cheesy as it sounds, I promise.)

“Jamie” starts with a slightly eerie-sounding chord then kicks off into some repeated notes oddly reminiscent of the synthesized beginning of Lady Gaga’s “Applause” (but much less annoying.) Luckily, an actual beat takes over, and it’s more of a driving beat than that of “I Believe.” The vocals are a bit quiet in comparison to the guitar and the beat, and at times, I had to listen hard to decipher the lyrics which was why I was a bit confused as to who exactly “Jamie” was. From what I heard of the lyrics, she’s a girl that’s going through some kind of struggle (“she’s pinning herself to the ground”), and they’re seeing her from afar and wishing they could help but not knowing how, lamenting “it’s sad, but I just look the other way.”

In “It’s All Happening,” the beat changes up to a more bump-and-kick sort of sound. It’s refreshingly catchy compared to the last two songs, and I’m surprisingly starting to that feel more of that “energy.” Like “I Believe,” the chorus comprises of mainly the song title (“it’s all happening now”), but that’s forgivable because of the chorus’s catchiness. Unlike “Jamie,” it could have been slightly better if the beat wasn’t as quiet and in the background. The lyrics are encouraging and radiate with optimism, describing the band’s journey from their humble beginnings (“when everybody laughed/you’re the only one that said I could”) to their newfound success.

“You’re In My Head” starts off with another creepy-sounding chord, but then the beat comes in, which is very strong and more driving. It’s obviously all about rhythm in this one, with lots of syncopated lyrics: “it’s 4 am, I’m by the phone again/this has to end.” I would definitely say that this is the most energetic track on the album.

“Worlds Collide” begins with yet another weird ominous chord. (I mean, I would think that these would be getting kind of old by now, but it doesn’t last long so it’s not as big of a deal.) Instrumentally, the song is a bit similar to “I Believe” at first. Thankfully, the lyrics are more insightful and less cliché: “I’m not searching for an easy way out/I wanna feel it all when our worlds collide.” There’s also a lot of nice vocal harmonizing in this, in a way that slightly reminds me of, dare I say, “Fun.”

All in all, this EP starts off a bit slowly, but has some potential. It wasn’t horrible, but there was nothing specific that really caught my ear and I couldn’t really find anything unique about the music—it was kind of just your typical pop-rock. Some of the tracks, especially the more upbeat ones, have radio potential, but we will see how Basic Vacation continues to evolve their music with the release of their new full-length album, which, according to their website will be released sometime in 2014.