Hailing from the landscapes of Providence, RI and the surrounding New England scene, eclectic and multifaceted recording artist Nick Duane began hitting the ground running in the music realm over many years and has put together a signature sound that is innovative, creative and a standout of its calibre. He’s an artist that has manifested into his own entity and always proves that he holds his artistic merit in high regard, delivering strong musicianship factors that showcase his performance and songwriting abilities most effectively. And this is heavily apparent with his newest single “ANYTHING”.
His distinctive style has several crucial influences implemented in this track, especially with his vocals that have a brilliant reminiscence of iconic legends like David Bowie. The song itself is very diligently crafted and really serves up an indie/rock feel that is equally nostalgic as well as fresh with its originality. The multi-layered guitars really carry the torch with the track’s strong progressions and the innovative rhythm section is insatiably groovy as well as rhythmic with the clever drum fills and smooth bass lines that cruise from start to finish. When it comes to the vocals, Nick Duane implements a very versatile edge and almost theatrical projection that fits the song’s atmospheric tone just about perfectly. He engages with the listener effectively and proves that his stylistic aura is anything but ordinary. You get a taste of something fresh yet still identifiable – equally balancing the originality and familiarity aspects in a way that will entice you to dive deeper into Nick’s discography and career altogether.
June 2021 - Nick Duane is a talented artist and songwriter who recently released a brand new studio effort titled Anything.
This release immediately stands out due to the astonishing quality of the production. The recording is crisp and intelligible, adding so much clarity and depth to the mix. However, there is something that’s quite incredible about the sheer power of the performance of the artist, which transcends recording quality due to its authentic and spontaneous flow.
The track combines immersive sonic aesthetics with thick atmospheric tones and a hefty rhythm patterns to add more focus and depth to the composition. Anything is raw, yet catchy and melodic, blurring the lines between energetic sounds and catchy riffs with a universal scope.
Nick Duane’s music is highly recommended if you are a fan of artists as diverse as Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, and Alice In Chains, only to mention but a few. Anything feels like a perfect example of how Nick Duane is so seamlessly able to combine genres as diverse as alternative rock, and indie music, only to mention a few.
Find out more about Nick Duane and do not miss out on Anything. This release is currently available on the best digital streaming services on the web today.https://nickduane.bandcamp.com/track/anything
March 2021 - Nick Duane is a singer and songwriter based in Rhode Island. His sound is incredibly one-of-a-kind, and the feel of his music is personal and imitate, capturing the organic sound of the 90s, with a broader range of musical influences. Recently, he released a song titled “Birthday Greetings.” The production really makes me think of a cross between Brian Eno and R.E.M. - capturing the lush soundscapes of the first and the insightful lyricism of the latter. This song is dreamy and spontaneous, but there is also a distinctive element of traditional indie rock songwriting, which adds a pleasant structure to the arrangement. I enjoy the vocal delivery, which makes me think of artists such as David Bowie, especially on his most recent and more experimental studio records. Ultimately, this track is really worth checking out if you like music that’s warmly familiar, but also experimental and refreshingly original.
Find out more about Nick Duane, and do not miss out on “Birthday Greetings,” which is currently available on the artist’s official page on Bandcamp.
Remake Remix is a new EP from Rhode Island-based singer/songwriter, Nick Duane. Blending elements of classic alternative and pop-rock, these songs would have seemed right at home on the soundtrack of any quintessential late 80s or early 90s indie film. The opening track, That’s What You Want features robust guitars and pleasantly haunting vocals. I can see why he leads with it as it’s peppy, catchy and just feels like a casual hit.
The recordings on this EP are professional, yet retain their intimate and organic indie authenticity. Nick Duane doesn’t wreck the sound with the kind of over processing and sterilizing effects contemporary artists tend to favor. One of my favorite songs on this release is Java Sea, with its hypnotically rhythmic guitars and reverberative oceanic vibes. It’s an avant garde, mini-masterpiece. The album closes out with (Those) Little Acts Of Betrayal a quirky jam with a totally cool beat and a creative delivery style. All in all, Remake Remix is one of the best little albums to slip in under the radar in 2020.
Electric Music Magazine
Taking a track that is obviously well put together and thought about with a real sounding vocal is something you rarely see due to wanting exact perfection from a sound. But sometimes you want to hear the real sound and then especially when it comes to gigs you know what you can expect. This is so real and feel authentic and has a 60's vibe about it. Great show from Nick and think that this EP is a great advert for what he can do.
"Imagine there are no limits, only plateaus in your imagination." This line is incredible. Top to bottom, this whole song is incredible. I absolutely love the somber feel that it has, the emotion of the lyrical content is extremely well portrayed. Even the video is well arranged.
“Our featured single, ‘THE OLD WORLD’ by Nick Duane, is out now and available to stream on all major streaming platforms! The single lasts four minutes and thirty-nine seconds and sits at a smooth 73bpm. The track commences with a twenty-three second instrumental introduction that features steady percussion, ambient synth and a stylistically distorted electric guitar riff; setting the melodic tone for the proceeding verse. Nick’s vocal color is clean and emotive; seamlessly synchronising with the instrumental accompaniment. A partial reverb adds an atmospheric quality to the overall sound without detracting from the prominence of the vocal melody. The systematic inclusion of the electric guitar riff adds a creative flare to the track that delivers just the right amount of dynamic diversification. From the well balanced mix and creative compositional arrangement, to the authentic vocal performance, fans of those who appreciate new and creative music will want to hear this single.”
MUSIC INDIE PLUS
by Katie Halligan
Nick Duane’s latest single, “The Old World,” is a deep whirlpool of electronic synthesis that echoes back to better times past and postulates what the future may hold. The song begins with two seconds of silence before cutting into a hip-hop/rock guitar beat that’s already been developed as if it was already playing the whole time. The lyrics, “In the old world at least we understood right and wrong, did what we should for man and woman the common good,” are grim and nostalgic, delivered with Duane’s shaky voice that has a scratchy gnarl to it resembling Billy Idol. A fierce overdrive guitar part comes in for a brief moment, but the song never really climaxes. It continues along in a rather endless-feeling haze, which seems to be intentional within the ambience of the music and context of the lyrics
“The Old World” is meditative and you can find yourself getting lost in the mix, but then the drums and guitar jolt you back into reality — kind of like living our lives now, where we have to pretend things are normal but they’re actually really off. With phrases like, “Imagine there are no limits, only plateaus,” it’s a relief of Duane to give space in between the verses, allowing the listener to absorb what’s being said. Nick Duane has a strong message for his listeners to take a step back and take a look around at what’s really going on in the world.
Overall, the feeling is ominous and melancholy, yet also ethereal and tranquil, featuring industrial yet fluid keyboard and drum arrangements that flow together like water. We get another hint of the guitar again before the song quickly and mysteriously dissolves away into silence in the same way it entered into the mix – as if the music sort of went on forever regardless of how long the song was actually being recorded.
Featured Track: Nick Duane-That's What You Want By Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
Nick Duane – That’s What You Want – Review
By Katie Halligan
A songwriter who has advocated for the support of original music for decades, Nick Duane plays music that resembles classic pop-rock tracks of the 80s and 90s. A talented bassist, guitarist, and vocalist, Duane released his debut album in 1996 and has since released several other tracks and compilations. Yet having not released anything since his last single in 2015, Nick Duane’s new track, “That’s What You Want,” released June 5, has been highly anticipated and comes accompanied by a music video.
“That’s What You Want” starts off with a heavy alternative rock groove that trudges along with a thumping bass line and an agitated rhythm in the drums and guitar. The production is a bit abrasive; for example, in the transition between verses and choruses, there’s a moment where the band is supposed to be in a stop time moment but it sounds like the producer literally trimmed the audio tracks abruptly to cut the sound out during those measures. But this could be intentional, because in this moment they say “Something’s wrong,” in the lyrics, in which case this effect would still be jolting yet more contextually appropriate.
The bass really shines out in this song with its arpeggios and dynamic delivery, while there’s also a fuzzed out guitar solo that dives back into an instrumental chorus, offering a breath of fresh air and change within the song. Nick Duane’s Voice has a scratchy vibrato and smoky grit. There are spot on backing vocals paralleling the lead singer’s voice with harmonies and then echoing the sentiment after the last chorus.
Just as suggested in the lyrics, the message of this song is difficult to put your finger on, but in general it sounds like the lyrics are about getting over or moving past a former relationship with someone. This could also be a political statement, suggesting the confusion that’s been thrust upon the nation by our current government has caused the person singing to become fed up with the lies and chaos and moving on from supporting that movement. Nick Duane’s new single, “That’s What You Want,” leaves the listener feeling independent, empowered, and humbled by its honesty.
“That’s What You Want” is a transcendental piece of real, road-worn rock n’ roll. There’s knowledge of truth, and some of it from the root. I get the sense of an axe to grind, wheels to grease, and a sound just coming straight and true. The arrangement is sparse and urgent with dirty throbbing guitars, banging drums, and Nick Duane’s voice crooning with a certain contempt: “When confusion gets in the way, clouds the truth in what we see today. That’s what you want, that’s all that matters.” What a treat … that is if you’re already been riding the back-roads with Nick Duane and his brand of alternative rock. If not, then you still have the pleasure of discovering him and his music for the first time here.
Nick Duane’s songs have a brilliant raw rock feel, creating a classic sound, nodding to his influences, all the while creating his own original sound. Nick has a close association with rock bands and artists from more interesting eras of the genre, but don’t go thinking for one moment that his music is derived from any of those groups, he’s an artist who stands his ground, and owns every square foot of it. His vocals and lyrics are placed front and center, with the guitar, and driving rhythm evoking tales of a man with a crystal clear eye on the hazards of life.In a world of over-produced formulaic rock, “That’s What You Want” is a breath of fresh air. A really great track from a singer-songwriter who has probably lived a life full of experiences and is using those experiences to inform his music and lyrics.
This is indie-rock with enough of a rough edge to keep it interesting all the way through. More than anything else Duane has achieved a sound that is distinctive in the current scenario. I cannot think of one artist, out now, who vaguely sounds like Nick Duane.
The first thing that strikes you about “That’s What You Want”, is Nick Duane’s world weary voice, which takes full advantage of its mellifluous edginess.
Throughout the song, Duane’s lyrics document a restless search for the truth: “This world keeps spinning so we need to focus. With all your lies and the hocus pocus. That’s what you want, that’s all that matters.” His tone lends an authenticity to his words, while the texture of resonant voice keeps those familiar words from sounding like retreads.
Nick Duane started making records a few years ago, and if all things were equal, he should have achieved household name status in his field by now. These days, in an ever changing music scenario, the artists who reside in Duane’s end of the rock spectrum tend to be rewarded with niche-level popularity.
Nick Duane is a singer with a deceptive amount of depth, and he can deliver a rocker with intense, swaggering hooks. He has determinedly proved with each release, that every song is a snapshot along the journey of an artist who’s fought for his right to take his sound in whichever direction he likes.
Duane a songwriter, a performer and an artist who has blazed his own independent trail. “That’s What You Want” is a rare treat in a world of corporate and pseudo rockers.
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“Rain” – soaring and emotive!
All-round this is one fine single. The production is superb, the vocals are soaring and emotive, the arrangement is tight and serves the song instead of distracting from it.
newsroom.indiemunity.com Sept 1, 2015
I was curious to read the words,ambient and classic rock, with indiepop referring to one song. Rain delivers, with layered music melded skillfully and artfully. For me, ambient will forever remind me of Brian Eno's haunting On Land. Nick Duane's song opens briefly in a similar synthetic mode, but quickly surprises and delights. Duane gives us texture by introducing classic rock guitar. By that, I mean, this guy is good. The complexity of his playing is old school, but the sound is fresh. On top of that, the vocals have a raw sound reminiscent of Tom Petty on a less rebellious day. Emotive lyrics flow with the artists mood, unconfined by conventional structure. I imagine a thoughtful, slow drive in the rain. This is a song that embraces the rain, but, as Duane says, celebrates sunshine. It brings me home.
Acid Fishbowl / Indie Music Reviews & News
New England based veteran musician, Nick Duane, has been a long time advocate for original Indie music, stating, "You make your music regardless of a recording contract or a live band or any of the arbitrary rules." With so much of the industry putting out cookie cutter pop songs, Nicks music is refreshingly original. Equally important his songs are well crafted art brimming with emotion. Stylistically, his music can be described as indie rock infused with ambient synth pop think 80s-90s Bowie meets Sting.
Check out Nicks new release, 'Rain.'
by sean on June 11, 2012 Music Review, Rock.
This week’s Bands You Should Know is a little bit off the wall. Okay, it’s way off the wall, but that’s the way we like it, right? Nick Duane If you’ve never heard of Nick Duane, you are in for a treat. And I mean that. The songs resemble pop songs, but on closer examination, they are something else entirely. Interesting voice, spaced out and poetic lyrics, solid jams–I’ve never heard anything quite so interesting as Nick’s album Before the Storm. Fourteen songs and nearly an hour of familiar-yet-strange songs. Fans of off-beat musicians like Bowie will find a lot to love here. Advocates of boundary-smashing catchy-emotional music will also really dig some Nick Duane.
sounds like the desert and broken seashells
Nick Duane is a composer and songwriter whose style embraces a really wide range of musical genres and influences, showcasing Nick as an avid music enthusiast with an open-minded approach.
Nick Duanes composition are blessed by a true independent spirit, just flowing naturally and organically as far as the authors inspiration and imagination goes.
Nick Duanes new album 'Before the storm' is a great portrait of this approach, and a great collection of intricate, fascinating sonic textures based on the contrast between hard hitting electric guitar riffs and dreamy synth melodies, topped by a solid rhythm section and charismatic vocals.
BEFORE THE STORM
Genre : Ambient Soft Rock / Synthpop / Atmospheric
Label : Independent
Origin : United States
Nick Duane comes forth with a release armed with a rather unorthodox and brave character, considering the abundant directions the delivery is fervent, persistent and efficient at exploring. The most frequently applied pace of the flow shows keen interest in delivering ornamented still-life music AND delivering much of it, yet the one thing that utterly and completely saves this spin from any kind or promise of motionlessness in a valiant and natural manner, is the simple and precious fact that Nick Duane sounds to be serious about this style-, about this shape of music. The richly detailed harmonic and ornamental fabrics oftentimes yield results that are pretty delicious to be immersed in when things looking synthpop, - Yello's Boris Blank would be happy to hear those moments - and the other key interest the disc is enthusiastic to go after, is the soft rock side of David Bowie. Sometimes, the cover art of an album is a superb representation of the "daaaaayuuuummmn" music, and, thank God & Co., such is the case with this Nick Duane contribution, as well. Read on to find out more about the premiere mechanics of this rather strong package of high quality-, morose-playful rainmusic.
Despite its restrained and gloomy arch-character of caressing, deep vibrations, Before The Storm is hasty and efficient to draw a picture of what is to be found on the record later on, right throughout the opening track. This particular entry contains pretty much all the key elements the release excels at as a full listening experience : as just hinted previously, the core of the statement as a full listen, sounds to be an exigent take on the David Bowian morose/gloomy soft rock rhetorics. The compositions are honest and admirably faithful to the shores of the constant feeling of being JUST one step away from full blown depression that already has been made sour peace with - this is the beauty and the danger of this music, and both ingredients ARE necessary for music worth listening to in this particular register.
The lyrical pieces of the full length are balanced well via a reoccurring strategy to offer instrumental interludes amidst the majority of individual song-pairs. The tracks show autonomous tendency to project different kinds of eloquent lights to the favorite subject matter of rainy day highway-depression : "G-Whizz" is a Southern ZZ Top piece, the next one, "When We Dream" once again channels Bowie, but adds top of the heat mid-, and high frequency synthpop-ornamentics to compliment the elegant anatomy of the song. The next track, "Beneath the Surface", is an equally caressing and thrilling ambient trip that I personally think is a superb narrative peak moment to signify the middle grounds of the spin. Exquisite, fluidic harmonic structures entertain the ears in a successful attempt to support legit David Bowie singing, narrating a tame spiritual rant : I have nothing but praise for this song, it easily is one of the most significant ambient pieces I have heard in years.
As noted previously, following the middle grounds, the album is yet to hit its more intense side : Rain On Tuesday is not YET that, nor is the consecutive installment, but the rabid section kicks off with robust psycho-electro-pop-power with track number 9, "Tightrope" : this sounds like intense "punk-pop" with the promise of going crazy and utterly compromised at the end of the song. Mix Depeche Mode with ZZ Top and a cybernetic mindhack and you have this vibe. Quite delicious!
"Blabber Mouth" is another specialty in the flow of predominant patterns. The song reeks the golden era of house music, when the idea "simply was" to include as many sonic layers in a track as it is humanly / alienly possible without harming the fabric itself, and Nick Duane does a tremendous job herein. I have no doubt whatsoever that this track was never intended to be a song at all, it "just happened to end up as one" during fiddling around with various electronic instruments in the production environment.
The record has a healthy dosages of surprises up its sleeves yet, among these, titular track "Before The Storm" comes to mind. Strangely enough, this "U2-meets Bowie" declaration sounds to convey menace by its mere production values! Because it does not sound "right", yet it does not even SEEKS to sound right, in my opinion. After all, it is being played while there is a hurricane on its way to the place where the music is resonated from, so the mere shores of sky-hell are affecting the music. "Just" logic. In this regard, the song is a superb accomplishment, fulfilling a function that is very rare to see - SIC! - in music.
The album is the perfect soundtrack for a rainy highway. I seriously would pick this on 6 occasions out of 5 times right now for any rainy day highway session. Preferably as the driver. The disc also conveys a sense of X Files science fiction, in my opinion, revealed with soberly limited high frequency sonic entities that cleverly refrain from intimidation, and instead are out to invite you into a risk free cosmos-trance. Watch raindrops draw random (?) fractals on the car window in the morning supported by this music to get a spiritual boost. Track number 2, "No Wages", takes you into this Zone pretty efficiently, - think of Blade Runner meets X Files - and this is not the only occasion you will be immersed in this feeling during the spin. Once again, a rather tight and robust - 55 minutes - atmospheric ambient soft rock album with a whole lot of quality stimuli to soak some ears into. Highly recommended.
Nick Duane is a veteran American, musician and composer who has played with several New England regional acts and has released the solo recordings, 'Confessions', 'When We Said Goodbye' and 'Before The Storm'.
He has played guitar and bass with several regional acts. Including; Axis, Backslap Blues Band, Monolith, Section Eight, DC Tenz and Confessions. Being a long time record collector Nick has an appreciation of different styles of music, which might explain such extremes as being one of the founders of the 'Backslap Blues Band', to his participation with WBRU Rock Hunt battle of the bands winner, 'DC Tenz'.
This singer-songwriter has been a long time advocate for original Indie music,
"You make your music regardless of a recording contract or having a live band or any of the arbitrary rules. These days I like to think of writing music as an idea without boundaries, only opportunities", he says.
Nick Duane's new album "Before The Storm" is out and it is jam packed with guitars, strings, synthesizers, loops, pianos and special effects and is equally divided between instrumental and vocal tracks.
'Willett Avenue' opens the album at a midtempo crawl, with the music banging out a devious acoustic rhythm and Nick's vocals snaking through it dreamily. The album's peaks include the wickedly loopy 'Tightrope', which veers between psych verses and crazy circus chorus parts over a percolating bass and hard nosed rhythm guitar, and 'Blabber Mouth', a bristling dance track led by a nasty, fuzzed-out wah-wah guitar.
'Down To You' pairs nicely with 'When We Dream', to showcase Nick's motormouth vocals which sound uncannily similar to Simple Minds, Jim Kerr.
The approach is more refined on 'Windmills' and 'G Whizz', but still maintains it's experimental tendencies, and is the albums best predicator of Nick's musical future.
'Several Years Away', 'No Wages' and 'Rain On Tuesday' beautifully brandishes Nick Duane's slower, elaborated orchestral arrangements, on an album which is nevertheless dominated by a triumvirate of propulsive rock songs that break up the medium pacing.
'Blink Of An Eye' moves along on the ever present acoustic guitar rhythm, bumping bass, and rolling drumbeat. 'Butterfly' is a dissonant epic of collapsing reverb and recurring keyboard rhythms under a harmonic vocal delivery. While the Teutonic and chaotic electric guitar interchanges and overlays of 'Before The Storm' make a strange mix, but work nicely under Duane's twitchy singing.
Nick Duane's 'Before The Storm' album is hard to pin down in any one musical genre. As Nick moves from guitar-based rock to orchestrated keyboard electronica from one track to another. So it's like a hybrid mix, between early Roxy Music and latter day Simple Minds. Or more precisely Phil Manzanera meets Jim Kerr in Wyoming.
'Before The Storm', that is!
Nick Duane - "Before the Storm" (Album Review)
Rhode-Island-based Nick Duane comes to the table bearing good tidings of great independent music, with his third album Before The Storm.
This album has a very original, unique sound. 14 tracks with a vast sonic range, combining classic inspirations such as Simon & Garfunkel, Sufjan Stevens, Prince, The Police and maybe even a little David Bowie at times.. blended together in his own clever way. His style, and self-proclaimed D.I.Y. systematic, is exemplified in a quote from his website: These days I like to think of writing music as an idea without boundaries, only opportunities.
On his ReverbNation page, Nick describes his sound as Synthpop, Atmospheric, Indie Rock, Adult Alternative. I am going to have to agree with him on that.
My rating: 7.7/10
review | Tumblr.
Artist: Nick Duane
Album: Before The Storm
Reviewed by Matthew Warnock
There are many of us that love music, whether we are professional musicians or not. We grew up writing melodies, coming up with chord progressions on the guitar and jamming with our friends, but unfortunately as we grew life got in the way and music took a backseat to our other duties and pursuits. Singer and songwriter Nick Duane is such an artist. After attending a reunion with old friends, who asked him about his music, he realized that life had gotten in the way, and it was time to return to the music he loved to write, resulting in the recording Before the Storm. The album features Duane as sole songwriter and musician, as he guides the listener through 14 tracks of well-written modern pop, giving hope to his friends and fans that this won't be his last release as he moves forward in both life and music.
Duane's songwriting brings to mind the classic pop-rock tracks that came out of both England and the US during the late 80s and 90s. With a penchant for coming up with an infectious groove, Duane enjoys using layers of instruments and rhythms to build energy and interest in his songs, including the opening track "Willett Avenue." Here, the vocals are a little reminiscent of Bono and U2, especially during the harmonizations, but there is enough personal touch injected into the vocals to keep them personal and unique at the same time. The drums and bass move in a slippery side-step as they both have distinctive lines and accents, but they both come together to elevate the overall groove of the tune to the next level. This tightness in the rhythm section allows Duane's vocals to rise to the top of the mix, being fully supported by the bass, drums and guitar, as he winds his way through the different sections of the track.
On other tracks, such as "Rain on Tuesday," Duane brings in piano, strings and a touch of dance percussion as he moves into a more modern-house-pop style. The reverb placed on the violin during its solo lines, as well as the tone of the piano combine to form a haunting instrumental aura that permeates the entire track. The electronic elements of the track also add a nice touch, as they bring the acoustic instruments and more modern instrumental techniques in line with each other, producing a nice musical yin and yang that is felt throughout the track.
Duane also has a rockier side to his work, which comes out on the track "Before the Storm." Here, the focus is on a heavily distorted guitar riff, which is also layer with other guitar tracks, heavy bass and repetitive drum groove, over which the singer punctuates his melody lines with pinpoint precision, leaving space for each lyric to grow and breathe above the harmony and rhythm. Though he is stepping into a heavier groove on this track, the song is still characteristically Duane, as he keeps his vocal timbre, idiomatic overdubs and layering in step with the rest of the tracks on the record, though adapted to fit more smoothly within the context of the heavier groove. It is this unified diversity that allows Duane to move in different musical directions on the album, without losing his listeners along the way.
Overall, Before the Storm is a strong release for Duane, one that will not only appeal to his inquisitive friends, but to a larger, more general audience as well. His ability to create different moods by using layers of instruments and vocal lines is commendable, going a long way to bridging the gap between audience and performer throughout the record.
Reviewed by Matthew Warnock
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Dark and dreamy singer songwriter,
Nick Duane is a synthpop/indie rock/alternative artist who is creating some very moody and interesting textures with his brand new release 'Before the Storm'. 'Willett Avenue' is recommended listening for fans of dark, dreamy alt rock , definitely easier to sink into than most more mainstream musical fare. With a patient vocal approach that sounds inspired by David Bowie and Bono with a spot of Talking Heads, the avant-garde passion comes across. I'm impressed !
IMP Artist Review
Nick Duane is a composer and songwriter whose style embraces a really wide range of musical genres and influences, showcasing Nick as an avid music enthusiast with an open-minded approach. Nick Duane?s composition are blessed by a true independent spirit, just flowing naturally and organically as far as the author?s inspiration and imagination goes. Nick Duane?s new album ?Before the storm? is a great portrait of this approach, and a great collection of intricate, fascinating sonic textures based on the contrast between hard hitting electric guitar riffs and dreamy synth melodies, topped by a solid rhythm section and charismatic vocals.
Dark, atmospheric brilliance. April 12, 2012
“When We Said Goodbye (Demos & Outtakes)”
review by Joseph Perez
Indie rock, alternative, synthpop and atmospheric artist Nick Duane’s release “When We Said Goodbye” has a very different feel and texture as his more polished, more synthesized “Before the Storm.” Even the name of the album comes with a subtitle explaining that these tracks are all demos and outtakes. Despite this, however, “Goodbye” has a quality and lyrical power that allows it to stand on its own right next to the other albums from this dynamic and powerful songwriter.
Compared to the synthpop/rock feel of some of Duane’s more recent work, “Goodbye” feels like a much less produced throwback to real, raw rock. There are no computerized beats (ok, maybe a couple…) or heavy use of synthesizers on this album aside from a few tracks at the end of album. Instead, we are treated to real instruments, clearly wielded with solid musicianship. The indie feel is front and center in this album as the minimal mastering keeps the midrange levels even with the bass and treble, leaving out the crisp sound and feel of Duane’s later work (e.g. “Before the Storm”). This in no way detracts from the enjoyment one gets from the album, however. Instead, this has a way of giving “Goodbye” a raw, yet intimate feel. The overall effect makes the listener feel as though you are hearing a cassette tape recording of a band’s raw nightclub set. Be ready for the masterful songwriting and execution, however; the emotion and punch delivered on each song ensures that there is something here for every fan of good ol’ rock and roll.
Starting with the track “Try to Reason” you are hit with a slamming beat and flowing guitar riff that pulls you right in. Duane almost speaks his lyrics adding a poetry slam, or even rock opera vibe to many of the songs throughout the album, which has the added effect of focusing the listener’s ear right on the message in the lyrics. For example, on “Try to Reason” Duane sings about being frustrated by a friend, and how he has to “brush away all [the] talk” and “stand back and try to reason.” Suddenly you can feel the sweeping guitar solo work as Duane working to clear all that talk away and the find the break Duane needs to “stand back and try to reason.” This interplay between the music and lyrics adds brilliant layer of complexity to an otherwise straightforward song, and it is this very type of interplay that keeps you anxious to see how it plays out in each tune.
The unconventional vocals Duane belts out on the whole album really find a home in the third track “Out of Touch.” The way he half sings, half reads his lyrics keeps his voice distinct from the other instruments you hear, keeping your ear interested and tuned in to the music. It also gives Duane a chance to deliver the lyrics with more emotional drive. On “Out of Touch” Duane adds a genuine sense of anguish to his voice as he sings the lyrics in which the speaker wrestles to reconcile his emotional past with his emotional present.
In the next track “Peer Pressure,” is yet another masterful example of the way Duane weaves the lyrics and music of each song seamlessly into a coherent vision. The instruments and his voice are soft, almost whispering how some anonymous “They” try to tell you how to behave and what to do. The way the song feels hushed, even over a solid beat, you understand the way “They” are whispering in your ear, trying to dictate your very thought. It creates a tension as you listen, providing a great soundscape that lets you feel the pent up pressure Duane is singing about.
“Liar” returns to the driving beats, rocking guitar work and strong vocals that keep a great album moving. Again, Duane is wonderfully expressive as he tells about the different ways he’s been let down by the subject of the song, and his frustration is palpable when he yells out “Liar!” during the chorus.
The 8th track “Ellie,” provides a great example of the range Duane has as a songwriter and performer. Compared to the jangly, rocking tunes in the first seven tracks, “Ellie” feels like a very natural shift into something just a little smoother and softer. It is a melodic ballad about a woman pushed too far, leaving her man, and pondering her life. This shows off the sort of emotional depth that Duane can reach in his songwriting, as the range of genres Duane can work quite comfortably in.
The tracks “Daybreak” and “Conundrum” contrast nicely with the first 10 tracks, and are great examples of the atmospheric synthpop Duane is so very good at producing. With no lyrics, “Daybreak” is a haunting tune that is layered over some soft synthesized percussion. While it seems a little disjointed in comparison with the rest of the album, it is nonetheless enjoyable and very accessible due to the traditional beat and song structure.
“Conundrum” feels much more experimental and ambient. The notes seem to float softly and slowly around your ears sounding almost as if they are being played in reverse. There is no percussion, and appears to follow a less traditional song structure. The relaxing atmosphere presented by Duane’s “Conundrum” provides a welcome cool down from the pure energy of the most of the rest of the album.
In the end, you’ll want to give “When
We Said Goodbye” another listen. And another and another. From
the way the lyrics truly blend in with the feel of each individual
song, it is easy to see how Nick Duane had been awarded runner-up as
the Limelight Magazine Singer-Songwriter of the Year for 2013. The
depth found in these tracks that were merely “Demos & Outtakes”
just barely hint at the overall strength and depth of Duane’s
songwriting acumen. Just one listen to “When We Said Goodbye”
will certainly have you seeking out more from Nick Duane.
"As personal as the title suggests, yet as universal as the themes in a John Steinbeck novel. Each song explores the nature of love and loss, the gap between dreams and reality. Cuts include 'Hyapatia Lee,' an ode to the charismatic actress, 'Trouble,' shades of singer, John Doe in its refrain, 'Slow Down,' which might remind listeners of Lou Reed in velvet underground days; 'Always Win.' whose rumbling growl may stick in your head long after the CD is over." .......
Scott Baker, Tucson Lifestyle
"Nick has a surprising, full-scale rock 'n' roll voice, pleasingly melodic but with a grasp of the tricks of the trade adding variation from song to song. The lyrics, as interesting as the music, often show a fine sense of humor, ranging from the straight-ahead male enthusiasm on Hyapatia Lee to the caustic Always Win." -Nick O'Donohoe, The Hayes Conveyor