Associations is the debut musical brainchild of Shane Conard. My introduction to Shane was by way of Fish Pond original Mike Frazier, my long time buddy and compadre pop punk musician, and so it immediately holds some cred for me. Mike has seen it, played it, done it, thrashed the tour circuit over the last few years, and through his latest project, Geneva Records, is producing some excellent music out of the East Coast. So when he calls me and asks if I’d take a listen, I’m excited for what I’m going to get. Welcome to Associations II.
Revolver, at only just over a minute long, is a really interesting start; vocally, Shane is obviously of decent pop-punk pedigree much sought after by the Geneva label, although the pace is slower, rocky, and has a massive guitar-driven sound underneath it. Serving as a short intro for the more meaty “What the Cops Gave Greg”, it gives you something to think about lyrically;
“I swore I felt a calming when I knew you felt this too,
a polished weapon finely furnished, but never been put to use”
Without time to think to much about it, he’s charging into song number 2, “…Greg”. A solid effort with licks that are capable but unsurprising, it reinforces the feeling that the instrumentals have been written and well-produced to support the vocal on this fledgling effort. There’s a throat-rending harshness to the closing bars.
Quite in contrast, “Coyote” starts out very melodically, before hitting a more pop-rocky vibe about a minute in. The harmonies are great, I can even hear (at least I imagine) a West Coast accent in there (think Jimmy Marino). More dynamic than its predecessors, it keeps the feel light and bouncy. By now, I’m starting to imagine Associations as a decent support act at a major rock event.
Then that moment comes, as I invariably hope it will; that fave “stick-it-on-repeat” song. Thanks, dude, for “Amber of the Moment”. It’s the Saves the Day, All American Rejects, culmination of all of the good stuff that’s been percolating through the first three songs on Associations II.
“It was a fast approaching winter,
and I’d hate to miss a moment,
of that autumn air,
So I took a walk outside”
Music to my ears, this one certainly should be the track that represents Shane and Associations from here on out. Ballsy, rocking, unafraid, vocally liberating, with all the guitar I could ever want in a commercially viable track like this.
For the finale, we slow down to what some might call the obligatory acoustic track; it’s lovely, a bit reminiscent of Josh Doyle back in the Dum Dums days, and something I would have expected from Random Holiday way back when. Scuppy is oddly named, quirky, and so raw and emotional vocally it has me closing my eyes and nodding my head throughout. Of the five, this is a strong second to “Amber…” and has strong single potential.
And there you have it. Geneva Records and Mike have a great ear when it comes to new artists, and it’s good to see them supporting this kind of talent. It’s a solid EP with some significant soaring highs in the last half, and leaves me really looking forward to hearing some live work and seeing what his first full album can do.
You can find out more about Associations here at his Facebook page. You can also check out “Coyote” right here.