Republic of Letters
January 16, 2015
Both “Spirit or a Ghost” and “Stories” offered us with high quality alternative rock songs with a very artsy and melodic feel to it, which is something we have come to expect from the San Diego market, with popular bands like Switchfoot, Helen Earth Band and Dynamite Walls occupying the same genre, albeit with a slightly different sound and identity. What made Republic of Letters stand out as the next breakout act from the San Diego area was the intensity and care that they put in their songwriting and performance. While listening to their releases it felt like you were listening to a seasoned band that knew exactly what they were doing. Songs had substance, connectability and were open to interpretation. No matter what kind of listener you are, you could either connect to the words, the arrangement, the energy, the catchiness or any combination thereof. The music was a package deal.
The band suddenly and surprisingly returns with a digital release called “Where Do We Go” which you can listen to on Spotify and order on digital outlets like iTunes. It holds five songs and lasts just over 15 minutes. But those 15 minutes bring us back to why we were first impressed with this band.
Opener Talking About starts off catchy and melodic with a bit of 90s distortion mixed through it. The riff keeps you moving while Chris Venti’s vocals fuel the song’s drive even further. They say it best themselves: “This is what I’m talking about.” This is indie music the way it should be. Raw, pure and energetic. Talking About has set opener written all over it. Perfect way to start a gig and perfect way to start this new release.
Get What’s Yours is very reminiscent of the songs we heard on “Stories” with the alternative yet melodic indie sound that is so typical for this band. Fast-paced and intense it is fueled with a sense of urgency that never lets go. Next up is the title song, Where Do We Go. It focuses a little more on the vocals, the chorus is pure gold and the bridge has the right kind of intensity before it turns over to the catchy sing along chorus again. Every radio station that hears this song should immediately pick it up. With the right backing this could (and should) be a massive radio hit.
The EP continues with White Noise, which features the best lyrics on this record. Also, it’s a perfect example why this band writes such effective songs. The band varies in intensity throughout the song and builds up towards the chorus which works as a climax within the song, which subconsciously gives the listener that “…wait for it… wait for it…” feeling until the release comes in the form of the chorus.
The EP ends with Help which again is very reminiscent of “Stories” with its melodic drive and emotionally charged chorus driven by a fast pace. The vocals provide an instant connection to the song and when Venti sings “help me see what I don’t see, help me, help me, I need to know” you really want to help. The plea for help in the song is heartfelt and honest and everyone has had or will have a point in their life where you really need(ed) that helping hand. The song really brings out that feeling of helplessness or despair that one can relate to.
I don’t know about you, but “Where Do We Go” really grabs a hold of me. I’ve been a fan of this band for years and I’m very happy they decided to release new material. The EP title suggests that the band may be at a bit of a crossroads and I hope these new songs lead them to a path of musical success that fuels their drive to release much more of these songs in the future. It would be a shame to lose this kind of talent. In the wake of bands like Coldplay, The Killers, Snow Patrol, Keane and the likes, most of whom have gone off to release commercially appealing records with bite-sized songs, there is room for a new player in the genre that provides us with the raw intensity and enthusiasm that is sorely lacking. Republic of Letters can fill that void as long as they remain driven and stay true to themselves musically. The promise is there, now they should get a chance to deliver on it with a greater audience.