Album: No Shortage of Good Ideas by Ender Bowen
Originally published by Rock Era Magazine
The latest album from Nashville-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ender Bowen is entitled “No Shortage Of Good Ideas” and today we will be checking out this record to see if it lives up to its name.
The first four tracks of the album were written and recorded in the mid-2000s, and it shows in their guitars and vocals more than anything. For instance, The opening track “Tongue In Cheek ” has a chord progression that’s very akin to 2000s Alternative Metal and Hard Rock that I grew up listening to and loving, so it made me feel that strong nostalgia. The bass lines were groovy and the drums were strong but the most catchy factor about the song was the gnarly vocals. Ender shows masterful use of his mixed register and sometimes he flips into head voice with smoothness and agility that only a trained and well-accomplished vocalist can have. The second track, “Vampire“, begins to show some more grunge and post-grunge elements in the dirty chunky tone of the rhythm guitar that contrasts the colorful and melodic lead guitar. I really loved that juxtaposition and how he made the track even more beautiful thanks to its percussive arrangement and consistent rhythm section. This track has a guitar solo that moves you and gives you those much-needed goosebumps to get you pumped and energized. “Needless To Say” has a slower tempo with soft verses and an overall power-ballad arrangement. This one will appeal to fans of Soundgarden and 90s Rock ballads so much. There is a bendy and skillful solo though that reminds us this tune was conceived in the 2000s and it most definitely belongs to that decade. “Past Tense Catastrophe” begins with hellish drumming and dark guitars that feel so moody and angsty. I really loved the vibe it gives off from the first moment. Once again these big guitars are contrasted with highly dynamic vocals that change registers and move around the range and the passages in a seemingly-effortless way. The song’s chorus reminded me of HIM and Ville Vallo so much.
The album makes a turn with the track “Riot” which next to being the album’s longest track, shows a change in composition due to having a lead synth melody and a very Industrial approach to it. This song is somehow still related to the 2000s, but it felt more inspired by Rammstein or Marilyn Manson than Three Days Grace or Seether. The following track, “Boys and Girls“, brings back the heavy and rhythmic rock style with its dirty guitar and groovy bass lines. There is still a distorted synth/keyboard sample that in all honesty feels like a good bridge to the generational gap between the fans of Muse and Radiohead. “Someday Soon” has acoustic clean guitars and is one of the brighter-sounding songs on the album. Ender shows off his vocal range much more on this track and I’m really amazed by how much he can keep a clean tone and a strong resonance at the same time. “Emerald” begins with a spoken word intro that acts as a poem on its own. An electronic drum beat and a great and emotional chord progression join shortly after. The song keeps picking up more pace as the guitars grow heavier and more distorted but the vocals remain soft and emotional. This is, in my opinion, the most Oasis-esque track on the record.
“If Anybody Asks You (Remove Your Shadow Mix)” feels in fact like an electronic remake of a heavy and hard rock-ish track. I loved its palm-muted down-picking and the sense of heaviness this created with the Type O Negative style synths that made the overall vibe spooky and Halloween-ish. “Nothing To Fear” is a very dreamy/trippy track that relies on synths and dark electronic beats and elements for most of its duration. The layering of the vocals is a great element too, especially since we can hear Ender singing some vocal fry mixed with his chest voice to reach the lowermost part of the range- a totally cool and demanding ability. “Rainfall” is an equally haunting and ominous electronic number that instills a sense of dark and brooding 2000s goth rock into its listeners. I’m not usually the biggest fan of synths and tracks that are completely electronic, but this one was a game-changer for me. The short yet concise interlude “Squeaky” has no vocals but makes use of some chuggy guitars and a jiggly bassline to be a breather between the tracks. “Long Day (Night Is Alive Mix)” has a very organic piano sound, while all the other instruments are doing “simple harmonies” in the background. The arrangement of this track accentuates its lyrics and emotional delivery so much. The last track, “The Cleansing Of The Soul“, has a bunch of ambient sounds along with some strings and some lo-fi guitar sounds that put a beautiful end to a lengthy and dense album.
To sum it all up, this album really does have “No Shortage Of Good Ideas”. Bringing together elements from the 90s to the 2000s and the collection of ideas here that not only work because of a shared fanbase between their respective genres, but because of the musical mastery and honest emotional delivery behind them…especially on the phenomenal first four tracks in here.