Ender Bowen Proves the Power of Genre Experimentation in “No Shortage of Good Ideas”
Originally published by SwitchBitch Noise Magazine
Just two years after “The Art of Tactful Procrastination” rock/pop singer Ender Bowen is returning with another genre-smashing album “No Shortage of Good Ideas”. Indulging in emo-pop vocals reminiscent of Gerard Way and Billy Corgan, combining elements of classic rock, contemporary alternative, and new wave pop, as well as staying lyrically true to Bowen’s consistent messages of the processing of complex emotions and what it’s like to be human in the 21st century, “No Shortage of Good Ideas” showcases growth and revitalization for this Nashville born singer. Here are our top 8 tracks from “No Shortage of Good Ideas” that will keep you rocking and encourage you to carry on even through the roughest weeks.
8. Long Day (Night Is Alive Mix)
A piano ballad encapsulating Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Bowen leads the track with perfectly paced vocals that illustrate the reflective nature of the lyrics. Alongside the passionate presence of the piano and Bowen’s captivating vocals, we hear the soft fuzziness of an electric guitar that’s not quite distorted but not quite in harmony with the overall instrumentation creating an effect of uncertainty that adds to the aura of the song. Being another track with a slower tempo, it’s easier for listeners to get lost in the trance cast by the song. With obvious influences of 70s and 80s pop and 90s rock, “Long Day” perfectly captures the feeling of its title but still manages to remind listeners that there’s always tomorrow even when situations seem impossible to solve.
A slower, more chill track than some of the heavier more classic rock-inspired ones, Emerald features a riveting mix of Bowie vocals with Oasis instrumental coming together to form the perfect track to listen to on a melancholy city night. Beginning with an echo effect behind Bowen’s soft, alluring voice and then springing to life in the contemporary alt-rock chorus, Emerald leaves listeners dazzled by the faded backtracks of guitar and bass and intrigued by the subtle synth influences that only become more prominent throughout the album. This one is definitely a tune that would have a live audience swaying in place with their phone flashlights on as it delivers a peaceful yet somber tone all the while still appealing to traditional classic-rock fans.
6. Someday Soon
Another softer tune, the first notes of “Someday Soon” emulate the iconic “Where Is My Mind” from Pixies. A simple combination and delicate balance of acoustic guitar and light drums along with Bowen’s mesmerizing vocals, this mellow track proves Bowen’s eclectic talent as he maneuvers between mosh-inducing rock anthems and soul-baring confessions of love and despair. There is a repetitive nature to the song but its uniformity adds to its beauty as the verses and chorus flow effortlessly and succeed each other without missing a beat. This seamless togetherness of the music also emphasizes the lyrics as Bowen sings to a loved one, adding tenderness even to the most familiar of phrases that we’ve heard time and time again. Sometimes sticking to simplicity is the right way to go, especially when crafting the ideal love song.
5. Tongue In Cheek
Starting off an album is always a difficult task but Bowen proves sometimes the best way to do it is to come in guns blazing. With a catchy guitar riff, smashing drums, and semi-distorted vocals, “Tongue In Cheek” serves as the perfect introduction to “No Shortage of Good Ideas”. This energetic track takes influences from early 2000s pop punk, 90s grunge, and even a splash of 70s classic rock, as well as implementing a bit of new wave as well with vocals fused with a synth backtrack. Perhaps the best part about the song is the way it hooks listeners and proves that the rest of the album will have plenty more rocking tracks down the line. As the guitar fades off into the distance as the song ends at a perfect, exact 4 minutes, listeners are instantly intrigued by what’s yet to come on the album and hungry for the next track to start.
4. Needless To Say
Throughout the album, many songs have experimented with a myriad of genres from classic rock to new wave but “Needless To Say” is in a league of its own with its subtle usage of strings in the introduction of the song to its more classic alternative chorus and bridge. A few piano notes can be heard toward the song’s conclusion, perfectly wrapping up all that came before. The presence of guitar and drums is never fleeting despite that this song features a softer undertone though it manages to remain completely different and stand out from the rest of the relatively tamer tunes in comparison to some of their thrashy counterparts. Bowen’s vocals and candid lyrics are yet another crucial part of the track, contrasting beautifully alongside the enchanting melodies that harmonize the emotionality of the track and its thoughtful composition.
The follow-up to “Tongue In Cheek” is just as vibrant as a sophomore song should be. While some artists lose their energy after giving their all in the first and last tracks, “Vampire” harbors even more energy than its previous track with Bowen’s fiery vocals fused with another hefty guitar riff that creates an unwavering atmosphere. Smashing Pumpkins fans will certainly be drawn to this song discovering the various instrumental layers working together to craft a unique tone while still deriving inspiration from pinnacles of rock and alternative. As the song fades to its end, listeners are on the edge of their seats for what’s to come next and to hear what other musicians Bowen will be paying homage to while still staying true to his own individual musical identity.
2. Boys and Girls
The first single released off “No Shortage of Good Ideas” and the track that’s smack dab in the middle of the album introduces a whole new spectacle of experience attributed again to Bowen’s masterful abilities. The song unfolds as it progresses with a distorted riff starting us off, a hypnotic symbol and bassline joining in next, and a haunting fusion of synth and electric guitar carrying us into the chorus. The track is repetitive in its design but that’s exactly what’s so captivating about it. With each listen, there’s something new to be discovered and nothing left to be desired as “Boys and Girls” plays with a multitude of genres from techno-pop, to pop-punk, to alternative rock. The song’s intricacies are wide-ranging as it behaves as both a song you can dance to and a song that will have you headbanging along, which isn’t an easy task for a song to accomplish.
1. Past Tense Catastrophe
If there’s any song that’s going to have you tapping your fingers along to its “Past Tense Catastrophe”. Its extended instrumental opening allows audiences to rock on for a little while longer only to give way to Bowen’s electrifying vocals. No instrument is underestimated on this track as every string of the guitar, every vibration of the bass, and every bang of the drum is fully engaged. Another distorted riff similar to “Boys and Girls” is featured but remains distinct like every other track throughout the album. While some might complain that alternative-rock songs sound the same, “No Shortage of Good Ideas” and especially “Past Tense Catastrophe” is here to prove that statement wrong as each track, though borrowing from others, is fresh and incorporates new sounds into the beloved genre.