Los Cicadas del Mar (“The Cicadas from the Sea”) are far from straightforward, presenting a unique combination of rock, funk, and blues. Based out of Dale City, Virginia, they frequently play in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, the New River Valley area, and Richmond. After many years of recording and producing, their self-titled first full album released to digital retailers including Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play on September 21, 2016. Physical copies are available through the band. The record was produced by Max Maichak at The Band Room, a recording studio based in Warrenton, VA.
With similar sounds to that of Primus, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Led Zeppelin, there is sure to be at least one song for everyone on this release. The album includes punching drums from Zach Liggett, indisputable bass slapping by Jay Rollison, nothing but the tastiest of guitar riffs from Max Richard, and thunderously melodic vocal lines from Matt Pratta.
1) “Just A Bug”
The record kicks off with an intro featuring an all-too-familiar screech of cicadas and other earthy sounds. Following the cicadas’ call enters “Just a Bug,” a tightly syncopated tune accurately depicting the band’s musicianship. It is the perfect song to start such a versatile album. And what better way to end the track than the way it started – with the cicadas making an audible appearance once again before the transition to the next track.
2) “Goin’ Nowhere”
Our second song on the release, “Goin’ Nowhere” takes us to a much calmer realm of intensity. It speaks as an anthem to laziness, endless driving, wasting time, and crushing bottles. Despite the bored narrator, the music has upbeat choruses and verses that are perpendicularly paired with crafty garage-style instrumental breaks. Finally, the song takes us to a spacey guitar driven outro.
3) “All I Ever Want”
As another change of pace, “All I Ever Want,” starts with a hard hitting drum roll, followed by another blues-rock riff, which takes us to a reggae/ska-driven verse. Pratta provides us a memorable and singable chorus over a simple rhythm section. For the last quarter of the song, Richard rips a well-constructed guitar solo in between choruses, proving a unique style that contemporary guitar players need to stick out. Sidenote: The main riff in the song sounds like “Banana-rama Man.”
4) “I Need Your Love”
A slightly distorted voice, tasteful guitar solos, clear bass lines, and a drum solo. What else can you ask for in a rock tune tune? Additional percussion comes in post drum solo to help expand the fatness of the track. Perhaps the closest thing to a radio single that they have to offer.
5) “Believe in Me”
A very soulful tune with some 60’s and doo-wop elements. The guitars are doubled up for a nice clean stereo feel. Great use of the minor iv chord. Praise to Maichak’s production skill. Although quiet at first, Pratta’s vocal style on this track is very enjoyable. Richard’s solo captures the early 1970’s sound of Mick Taylor’s playing with The Rolling Stones. Post guitar solo we pick up to a heavier feel but slightly lose the vocals within the mix.
Full album available for streaming on Spotify below!
6) “Summer Dress”
Cow bell intros make the best intros. This funky tune features collaborator Johann Crandall on keys. Crandall also plays with Guitarist Max Richard and Zach Liggett in a group called Bunny Man Bridge. The emphasis and accent of the beat makes us feel like we are in 5/4 or 7/8 while still effectively grooving in 4/4. This tune does a great job of showing off the talent of the members of Los Cicadas including some ultra-smooth vocal harmonies.
7) “No Quiero Olvidar ”
Another complete change of pace, the seventh track offers a more classical guitar and voice-focused piece. “No Quiero Olvidar” (meaning “I Do Not Want to Forget”) features Rollison singing in Spanish. Liggett executes a new style of hitting the snare drum on the rim instead of the head for most of this piece. This style gives us a much calmer and well-fitting feel to pair with the soft acoustic guitar playing. This track shows how hard the group works to be unique without trying too hard. This is not just a song, it is a complete work of art.
This song has some great versatile elements going on. Eastern and heavy metal influences are easily detected. What starts as a typical indie rock acoustic guitar intro quickly contrasts with another hard-hitting full rhythm section. This time we really are in 7/8 time for the first 20 seconds or so. Then we arrive at a very Primus-esque, Brown Album era, sound. After the verse, we get into a variation on the introduction, back into the funky section, and then another verse. Following the bridge, we are presented with a quick drum solo to transition us back into main tune. At the end of the song we get a quick teaser of the main tune again. Who says humor does not belong in music?
9) “Sometimes I Wonder”
Ahhhh, sit right back and let the groove take care of your earholes. “Sometimes I Wonder” is the bluesiest song on the record. Another one that has the bass panned to the left, good clean wah rhythms and solos coming from the right. You cannot help but bob your head and shake your hips while listening to this one. Eventually we are introduced to a double time section and really get to grooving.
10) “Will You Be Mine”
Another tune featuring Johann Crandall on keys. Getting back to some straight funk. Rocking on that I to IV progression. Some tasty background vocals arrive on this track. You cannot help but dance to this one. Right around 2:45 we get the keys and the guitar synched perfectly for a double time Zappa-influenced melody. This brings us to a noisy harmonic driven section around 3:07. Los Cicadas songs are anything but predictable.
11) “Torrential Downpour Blues”
The longest track on the record: a staggering 7:47 of memorizing music. Psychedelic blues at its finest. The vocal mix is not as dry as the others and Pratta’s voice flows smoothly through an ambient reverb. This song accurately contrasts quiet and simple sections with loud and technical ones. The album-ending guitar solo of pure epic proportions lasts over one minute long. This brings the record to a live show-sounding close.
Two big fucking thumbs up for this record.
Los Cicadas del mar’s new self-titled album is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, and more.