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New York City Queens takes music to next level

Album review: ‘Somewhere Different, Something New’

Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07


It has been quite a year for the hardworking guys and gals in the Houston-based, rock-pop band New York City Queens. Closing out a busy twelve months of continuous gigging with an awesome performance at the Revolution Café for Rock The Republic 2011, this young band is beginning to make quite a name for itself.

With their latest album, Somewhere Different, Somewhere New, New York City Queens manages to take their music to the next level. The beautifully cohesive and entrancing rock-pop tracks are full of contagious vocal harmonies, dreamy guitar tones and tight rhythms that take you on a quick journey to the beach before making a stop at that all-night dance party across town.

Opening track, "Hello Again," starts off the album with a groovy bang. Infectious guitar riffs, spot-on harmonies and tight pop beats slowly build while the listener is instantly transported into the windy passenger seat of a convertible on a sunny day. Title track, "Somewhere Different, Somewhere New," also showcases the band's ability mix melody with dynamic. The song immediately gets up to speed with a drum machine leading the guitars on a robotic march towards a series of dreamy passages. In one moment the song dies down to a whimper, only to suddenly explode back into that catchy opening groove.

The next track on the album, "Symmetry," is a slower song that seems to draw more heavily from some of the group's surf rock influences. This slow jam seems as if its destiny was to be blared out of a beach-bound boom box. I can practically feel the sunburn by the end of the track.

By the time "Move A Little Closer" ends, it becomes undeniable that NYCQ is a group with a lot of vocal talent. Intricate vocal layers and poppy drums call out to one another before shifting gears into a ridiculously catchy chorus. In yet another change of pace, "One Trick Pony" reminds me a bit of the afro-beat tendencies of popular bands like Vampire Weekend, but with a tinge of that now-signature NYCQ dreaminess. This track merrily trots along, until another sudden change in rhythm takes the listener from the studio and into the mellow atmosphere of an afternoon backyard party. If you ever need some cheering up, this song is your medicine.

"Regression" is another slow song that showcases the vocals of lead singer John Stephens while also splashing a bit of keyboard and gritty guitar into the mix. The next track, "Be My Baby,"is an awesomely 80s-esque cover of the popular hit song by The Ronettes, complete with an interesting combo of electronic drums and synthesizers. I'll admit: I just couldn't help but croon along to this one.

"Hole In My Heart" closes out the album with a tight layer of frenetic guitar riffs, contrasted with pounding bass. New York City Queens doesn't make the mistake of choosing to stay on a particular riff or sound for too long, opting instead for sudden changes in structure. This track also chooses not to drag on for too long, but instead suddenly morphs into a hypnotic frenzy of guitar tones.

You guys should definitely keep an eye out for New York City Queens because there is no doubt in my mind that these guys and gals are a band on the rise. You do not want to miss a chance to see them perform live. They had their crowd moving and grooving with the very first note at RTR 2011. Be sure to check out their gig calendar and maybe even throw a "like" their way over at their Facebook page.

Steve Wells is a senior marketing major at Texas A&M University's Mays Business School. In addition to being a student, he is also a local musician and promoter.

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