FEATURED ARITS *FRANK CERVANTES* - Not Far Down The Road - EP REVIEW + INTERVIEW


 

FRANK CERVANTES - Not Far Down The Road

South Jersey, United States



 

BACKGROUND

 

Frank Cervantes is a songwriter and recording artist from South Jersey, currently residing in Newtown, Pa. He is a founding member of the synthwave group Retroglyphs, and was priorly a member of The Once Was and The City Music Project. Frank Cervantes has performed over 500 shows and is a consistent presence in the Philly area music scene. His music is often featured on WXPN in Philadelphia. Cervantes released his first solo record, Forgotten Summer, in 2011. The record was recorded and produced by Grammy-nominated producer Will Yip (Bartees Strange, Anthony Greene) at Studio 4 in Philadelphia. The album earned Frank a tri-state indie Artist of the Year nomination and had 3 singles featured on NPR radio. Cervantes followed up with the critically acclaimed Terror of the Heart, and then the EP Lost Country, before pausing his solo career to focus on his synthwave project Retroglyphs. 2021 welcomed the release of Frank's first solo EP in 6 years, the 3 song EP Turn It Around. Frank is kicking off 2022 with the release of a new EP called Not Far Down the Road. So let's get into reviewing this EP!


 

REVIEW

 

FRANK CERVANTES - Not Far Down The Road opens with the track 'Minnesota' - This is a track that really sets us up for what we can expect from this artist. Unlike many other songs in the indie-rock realm, this track waits for less than one bar before bringing the vocals into the mix. This hits us instantly with the beautifully crafted vocals that this artist has to give. 'Kings Of Leon' meets REM comes to mind throughout the feel of the track. The drum arrangements hold their own throughout the duration of the mix and a dreamy reverbed guitar melody embeds itself in the background of the track just behind the classic strumming of the lead guitar. I like the way that the bass holds a consistent hum throughout the track. There are some really nice guitar solos in the piece that are allowed to take the light as the rest of the band takes silence. They really break this track up. I love this style. Track 2 entitled 'Not Far Down The Road' offers a completely different feel in the opening bars. We're given a harmonica melody alongside the strumming of an acoustic guitar that sweeps us away from the feel of the first track and into more of a folk-inspired creation. This changes quite quickly within the first few bars to then take us back into Frank Cervantes' signature sound. We're now in the land of dreamy reverbed guitar solos, revered drums, and revered vocals. It's a real dreamy track full of space and feeling. I love the feel of the track but one thing I would say is, maybe reduce the amount of reverb on the vocals slightly to make the lyrical content easier to grasp. We want to hear the words more clearly so that we can sing along to every single word. Track 3 entitled 'Let Them Wait' takes us into the second half of this EP. This is my favorite track of the project for the following reasons - 1) The opening arrangement is crystal clear, you can hear all of the instruments in their own place within the mix in a way that really makes you feel what's to come next. 2) The lyrics are as clear as day, I really got to the root of the words of this track. 3) The vocal tone is extraordinary! I felt every word and when accompanied by backing harmonies this really rode the wave of the rest of the band's efforts. The rawness of the vocals made me feel something very deeply. The next song on this project is the title track 'Not Far Down The Road'. This track takes us back to the REM vibes that were found in the opening track I'm so impressed with the diversity that this artist and his team bring. The dominance of reverb makes an appearance in this track once more but isn't overpowering and really adds to the dreamy tone of the track. I love the tone of the vocals in this one. Ending this EP with 'Backwards Town' we hear a stripped-back acoustic guitar with an acoustic piano along with Frank's vocals. A lovely acoustic ending to such a high-energy compilation. The drum playing brings more rhythm to the acoustics of the piece. This project is a real mix of indie-rock and acoustic that keeps to the signature sound that this artist has crafted for himself. Lovely EP. Make sure that you click the link below to hear it and scroll down to see our interview with the man behind the project!



 


 

INTERVIEW

 

You work under Moonrocket Records, how did you go about securing the partnership?


I’m founder and primary writer for the label.


That's incredible, well done! What would be your ultimate achievement for your latest EP 'Not Far Down The Road'? Is there a particular vision that you had when putting the EP together?


For me, this collection represents a specific time and place in my existence. The songs were written over the past year following a move mid Covid out of New Jersey to Newtown, Pa, one hour away. Though I’m “Not That Far Down The Road,’ the feeling of unfamiliarity inspired me.


Who was involved in the project alongside you?


Frank Cervantes plays all the instruments except drums (Josh Mayer) and Bass (Brian Engler)


When did you first realise that you had the potential to be an artist? Is there a memory that has stuck in your mind as the turning point for you?


After only playing guitar for a year, me and my lads were selected to open and close the 8th grade talent show. I had been recognized in the school as theatric, winning a couple of lead roles in plays, but this accomplishment awarded me some confidence that I could do something cool. I was a music fanatic since I could remember. It started with the Beatles and grew to Led Zeppelin, Motown, and Disco during middle school.


How would you define your sound?


Intelligent indie rock with a touch of nostalgia. Past works been compared to Delta Spirit, Fleet Foxes, and the War On Drugs. In some ways we all came up to listening to the same stuff, a byproduct of my generation. I feel like these artists are my contemporaries.


This might be a tricky one but Studio vs Live - Which do you prefer and why?


I’m a studio artist first and foremost, it’s what sets me apart from my peers. I enjoy playing live as well, but studio work is at the root of my artistic journey. My and my best friend bought an 8 track when we were 13 and I got immersed in recording experiments. By age 16 I had a 12 song full length and over the next 10 years I released over 10 records between 5 different projects. Philadelphia radio station WXPN supported most of my projects, and singles were regularly featured as the daily local selection. That affirmation kept me in it, and allowed me to recruit better local musicians to play on my stuff.


Snap, I'm more of a studio artist too! It's the root of all work! If you had the opportunity to work with one of your favorite musical artists, who would you most like to collaborate with and why?


I’d love the opportunity to work with an up and coming pop artist like Barrie or Charlotte Day Wilson. As much as I’d enjoy connecting with a legacy favorite like Paul McCartney, it would just be another accomplishment. Collabs with young emerging talents in indie pop is more attractive to me at this point.


What are your future plans? What can we look forward to for the rest of 2022?


I’m going to be performing Not Far Down The Road a handful of times in 2022. I put together a band, we’re calling it Terror Summer. It’s a partnership with the band All This Huxley to perform our works live. The performers from the record, Josh Mayer and Brian Engler, are both involved. I’m also working and producing on Moonrocket Records releases with Roxy Fae, Diamond Ace, Amelie Swann, and a couple of other artists who I can’t name at this time. I’m also the founding member of Retroglyphs, and we’ve been plotting the release of some pandemic material and I suspect we’ll drop something this year as well. I’ve been struggling to get listeners for Not Far Down The Road. My motto is “if you only have 100 plays, that means only 100 people have heard you.” The challenge to get people to press play makes the idea of working with other emerging artists more intriguing. I just want my work to be heard.