Archive for the ‘Music Review’ Category

Photo courtesy of Mixhouse Productions

Taking Back Sunday, The Killers, Brand New, Hodera, and Kings of Leon are all bands that have provided influence to up-and-coming Gainesville, Florida indie rock band Causa. The band’s influence is heard throughout their debut album Learn To Fall.

A smooth seven track, self-described “mini album”, Causa guitarist Erik Ruud tells me that their freshman disc is a “stew of sound, trying to blend Manchester Orchestra and Taking Back Sunday sound with a Foo Fighters feel and little bit of Silversun Pickups tossed in”. Ruud co-wrote all seven songs with then- drummer Ruben Moore for Learn to Fall and lists the album experience as “overcoming the fear of falling and recognizing that to truly enjoy the ride (whatever that may be) you must first overcome that fear”. Moore has since left the band to pursue other opportunities relinquishing duties to current-drummer Logan Fischer (who also produced the album and is taking over but is not featured playing on this album). Ruud credits Fischer for shaping the overall sound of the album saying that Fischer’s direction was paramount during the recording process. Ruud credits lead singer Barrett Swartz for transforming the lyrics and making them great, adding that he was a catalyst on the album. Ruud went on to explain that after writing the songs, the entire band got together and hashed out the direction they wanted the album to go, which resulted in the seven track effort.

The first track on the album, “Learn to Fall”, opens with a reverbed guitar over a sound byte of two people talking about failing, the intro to the song bleeds into Swartz’s melodic voice. This track is a fantastic opener for the album and it sets the chill vibe for what is to come. Ruud explained to me that the album is meant to be listened to in track order as it tells this falling story.

As the album turns to track two, “Ordinary”, the guitar riffs that were on “Learn to Fall” return but with a harder edge. Swartz’s voice remains a constant, easy presence as he sings about “there’s no trophies for second place” as the story continues about falling. While the track is clearly influenced by a Kings of Leon sound, it also sheds a light on some of Swartz’s vocal limitations. With the harder sound comes the need for a bit harder voice and Swartz doesn’t have that here like he does in other parts of the album where he opens up his range a bit more.

The transition to track three, “Make It So”, is a nifty one that opens with drummer Ruben Moore getting a solo of sorts. A rhythmic cadence of drum rolls that signal those you find in a march. Moore on the drums are fantastic here as its him that provides the calming presence. The story of the song, as Swartz’s voice finds its harder side (which I found welcoming), is about slowly falling down and Moore’s drums highlight that march to darkness. As I listened to the album, I found this track to be my favorite of the three tracks so far.

Track four, “7:6”, immediately starts with a clear rock vibe. As Swartz sings “my brother can’t you see, it means everything to me”, Ruud’s guitar riffs are so well weaved into the lyrics, it’s hard to believe these tracks are the first from this band. Composition and lyrics are well beyond that of a freshman debut of a band who has only been together fully for less than two years. Swartz ends the song “I want to find my own, find my home”. According to Ruud, the rhythm for this song came from bassist Adrian Latscu and the riffs he hits on the track. Causa clearly understands the niche they need to carve out in the music-scape of never ending bands and artists. While this track wasn’t my favorite, it’s the most musically advanced track on the album yet.

Track five, “Runaway”, the album’s lone single, continues the over-arcing story of falling by explaining that you have to let things go and not run away from those problems. Having followed this band since they were formed, I’ve heard this track both live and stripped down. It’s the albums most fine-tuned track and you can tell. I’m not a fan of some of the production on the track but it’s easy to see why the band chose this track as their single. It’s a song that pays off the time of listening to tracks one through four.

As the album comes to a close, track six, “Ms. Informer”, is the definite stand out. The influence from other bands – A Funeral For A Friend comes to mind – is heard throughout. Swartz’s voice has a lot of purpose on this track and it’s also the only track on the album that has defined background vocals – something that is lacking on the other tracks. Bassist Latscu also gets his due on this one as thumps from his bass guitar provide the direction for the song. The track reflects on the mediums in our lives where we get our information from and how wrong they can be. The bridge of the song finally condemns those sources of information and allows the listener to realize that we are our own culprit of misinformation (get it?). The track is this album’s best. The Taking Back Sunday influence is so loud and clear here with a hint of Silversun Pickups. I kind of wish the album ended with this track instead of track seven.

The last track, “Treading;Swimming”, opens with a melodic guitar line that transitions into Swartz’s smooth voice. The end to this album and story takes place much how the album and story began: with Ruud’s guitar. He has such command of the track that it’s easy to get lost in Swartz’s lyrics. The track speaks to growing tired of being in the same spot, emotionally and mentally, utilizing the ocean and waves to symbolize getting past something. The lyrics touch on asking for help and it’s a fitting end to the album. Subdued but with a purpose.

Learn to Fall is a fantastic surprise from a very talented band. Causa is a group that if Gainesville was a bit bigger and had more opportunities for indie-rock, you would find them on the radio. It’s not often that a debut album comes along from a local band that makes your ears stand at attention and long for more, but that’s exactly what Causa has accomplished here.

You can learn more about Causa by visiting their site.