Little Richie – Being As An Ocean: Music Review

Bio

Harnessing the whimsicalities of spoken word and melodic grit, California-native Being As An Ocean, have fit comfortably in the niche of the new wave of American hardcore since releasing, Dear G-d, in 2011. Their polished sound and lyrical prowess give this band an edge that is ultimately an emotional gamut.

Background

I’ve said something similar on previous posts, but I believe friends, peers, and family are critical pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of musical tastes. The range of your buddies listen to in the car all the way to what you were raised on are pieces that help put the puzzle together. The reason I say this is because BAAO are a band that I got into because of friends who had roots in different tastes than I do… but that’s starting to change for me. I found them on Spotify (chalk three in this blog thanks to that site) as a band related to Capsize – another hardcore band hailing from the east coast.

Band shot. Photo credit: Rock Transmission

Band shot. Photo credit: Rock Transmission

I don’t normally review singles, but I think this will provide a good opportunity to further dissect song structure, lyricism, instrumentation, and give a more comprehensive picture of where this band has come from and gone in the last 4 years.

Little Richie is the single that was released a couple weeks ago for their upcoming self-titled album, scheduled to drop late next month.

I remember watching the music video for Salute e’ Vida and seeing a Youtube comment that read, “I’ve never seen a band who’s Youtube comments are filled purely with love rather than random sprays of hate. These guys must be pretty special.” While there is some satire laced that response, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I can see why.”

This band came out of left field. I’ve never been too big a fan of hardcore music because I wasn’t enamored with the vocal style, lack of brutality, and messier production quality that most modern metal makes up for. With that said and as aforementioned, that’s beginning to change for me. My friends who enjoy heavy music are much more into hardcore, emo, and punk rock. To be honest, I liked metal’s calculated anger channeled into this maelstrom of sonic ferocity. Metal was and still is (to a certain degree) an outlet for anger and frustration, but now that I’ve gotten a chance to work out frustrations and unpack baggage from my life, I don’t have such a strong of an itch for that kind of musical therapy to drown myself in. With that said, I’ve always enjoyed the edgier side of music and find that my tastes are evolving. I’m beginning to latch on to this kind of hardcore my friends are into for what it holistically offers, but I’ll get to that later.

Instrumentation/Songwriting

Little Richie starts with a short somber sounding echoing piano section that takes off into a familiar formula of hardcore instrumentals and vocals that build on each other throughout the verse. Throughout this song, you hear the instrumentals build up in the verse, return to this sonic homeostasis, and then take off again. In that time, the drums and bass continue to lay down the groove and back Joe Quartuccio’s bellowing vocals. The chorus introduces clean singing from rhythm guitarist, Tyler Ross, along with increasingly more emotional instrumentals in this song. On that note, the guitar riffs are catchy and have this really clean tone that I wasn’t expecting to hear.

Joe Quartuccioo. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Joe Quartuccioo. Photo credit: Wikipedia

I’m used to more grimy tones in this genre of music, but it actually works really well for what the band is trying to capture. The second verse transitions into a softer passage, much like the first pre-chorus that showcase drums, bass, and intermittent guitar work. Quartuccio’s vocals evolve into a spoken word slam that narrates a story of physical abuse towards witnessed by one of the children. As the song ends, the instrumentals explode into one last chorus that takes the song to its most cathartic passage and conclusion. Quartuccio’s vocals are well executed in this song, and in my opinion it’s because they’re controlled. I don’t mean that to take away from the intensity his screams/yells, but they’re harnessed and fit well. Each syllable and enunciation is placed where it should be and you can still hear what he’s saying.

I gathered from looking at lyrical themes on previous releases that there are spiritual underpinnings. Listening to interviews with the band, Quartuccio’s devotion to God is painted throughout their discography, yet it doesn’t reach a level of “preachy” that you might otherwise hear. These songs are much more parabolic and anecdotal. They tell stories of mourning, the necessity for love, and leaning on God to navigate through doubt. Little Richie illustrates an emotional depiction of a mother enduring physical abuse while having to reassure her son that “God has a much bigger plan…” At the end of the song, the story outlines how this young child found life in God and reminds the congregation, “This is what’s promised, he works all things for good. It’s love that wins.” Contrasted with the workings of such a dysfunctional family in this song, this is striking lyricism that packs even more punch when you listen to how this is all done as slam poetry and traditional hardcore screams. This is one of the reasons that I am beginning to warm up to hardcore. The emotionally laden lyricism combined with such raw intensity makes it all feel more organic and believable.

Lyricism

I gathered from looking at lyrical themes on previous releases that there are spiritual underpinnings. Listening to interviews with the band, Quartuccio’s devotion to God is painted throughout their discography, yet it doesn’t reach a level of “preachy” that you might otherwise hear. These songs are much more parabolic and anecdotal. They tell stories of mourning, the necessity for love, and leaning on God to navigate through doubt. Little Richie illustrates an emotional depiction of a mother enduring physical abuse while having to reassure her son that “God has a much bigger plan…” At the end of the song, the story outlines how this young child found life in God and reminds the congregation, “This is what’s promised, he works all things for good. It’s love that wins.” Contrasted with the workings of such a dysfunctional family in this song, this is striking lyricism that packs even more punch when you listen to how this is all done as slam poetry and traditional hardcore screams. This is one of the reasons that I am beginning to warm up to hardcore. The emotionally laden lyricism combined with such raw intensity makes it all feel more organic and believable.

Photo credit: Alt Press

Photo credit: Alt Press

Production

As I discussed earlier, hardcore has more grit in its presentation and a lot of that comes down to how records are recorded and mixed. As I began to journey through this type of heavy music, listening to groups like Underoath, Capsize, Counterparts, LaDispute, Defeater, even August Burns Red, there’s a common denominator. These groups, including BAAO, are able to serve something polished that still retains its frenetic nature. With that said, this song does do something different. It’s very heavy in the drums and bass when they are in the spotlight. Guitars vary. In the beginning, they take somewhat of a back seat, are fronted in the chorus, and then take off at the end. The vocals are in your face and dominate for a good reason. Little Richie’s production is clean, but still captures the controlled chaos.

Conclusion

This song, and furthermore, this band captures why I’m beginning to enjoy hardcore. The dynamic song compositions, edgy vocals with meaningfully potent lyricism, and emotionally charged, forward songwriting make me enjoy songs like this in ways I never thought possible. I’m pumped for this new album to be released and would highly recommend this song!

 Score: 96/100

About blangl33

A sojourning son of a living Savior.
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