In an era when everything seems to be digital downloads, it’s increasingly rare that anyone, let alone a 20-year-old, would choose to issue a first release on the near-dead format of CD. But that’s exactly what new local artist André has done. And after listening to the record, it makes sense. The Ventura singer-songwriter is clearly an old soul. Borderline wouldn’t sound out of place in the hook-filled radio rock world of the 90s and early 2000s, and that’s far from a bad thing. Musically, Andre dips into John Mayer and The Fray territory on pop-rock tracks like “On The Horizon” and “Gap Year,” but he adds just enough Foo Fighters and Bayside influence on other songs to still flat-out rock. The moody ballad “Love Again” is a stand-out track as well, showing that Andre can break it down when needed. In all fairness there are a few moments that betray his actual age. For instance the overuse of words like “baby” and “darling” in “Miss Independent,” and the obligatory song about graduating, named, you guessed it, “Graduation Song,” probably shouldn’t have made the cut. One or two weak tracks on an 11-song debut isn’t bad for a seasoned artist, let alone a rookie. André proves that not all the kids in 2015 are listening to electronic music or nursery rhyme hip-hop and R&B; there are a few who still value real songwriting. That alone makes Borderline one of the best local releases of the year.
— Chris Jay
Available on iTunes, Spotify and www.andremusic.net.
Venturian Space Neighbors
Vertical Parallel Lines
Not only are aliens already here in Ventura County, they have songs to play and they do it most enthusiastically under the name Venturian Space Neighbors. They’re a crew of three: Admiral Jon Dewey on drums, Captain Jeff Kranzler on bass and Test Pilot Poyer on lead guitar. They’re purveyors of a singular kind of progressive instrumental rock, the kind that used to be rooted in a general sense of wonder at the prospect of going to the stars — and all the anxieties that come with looking up to the cosmos while voyaging through life. On Vertical Parallel Lines (or VPL, supplanting the acronym’s previous meaning of Visible Panty Line), songs with titles like “Irrelevant Gravitation,” “Frothy Parsecs” and “Waxing the Message Mercurian” are shot through with samples from moon landings and other space shots. The music is capricious and challenging, going to places whose whereabouts only these psychonauts know, and it’s in that journey that Venturian Space Neighbors find their greatest strength. There’s no one like them making this kind of music anywhere near here. Or perhaps the whole point is to go as far away from “near here” as possible on these fine slabs of fried, frazzled spacemusic.
— David Cotner
Available on iTunes and Soundcloud.