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Album Review: Damon Mitchell’s Elise EP

This 60’s and 70’s inspired EP brings back the sound of the past.

Kevin Ashley

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Here’s another EP for you guys, this time it’s Damon Mitchell’s Elise. Featuring six songs, Mitchell describes it as “inspired by mid 60’s Beatles” and “reminiscent at times of late 70’s classic rock radio giants in particular ‘Comes a Time’ era Neil Young and ‘Aja’ era Steely Dan”. I never listened to the above bands that much, but I have been exposed to my fair share of 60’s and 70’s music, so we’ll see how this goes.

Damon Mitchell is an independent musician from Fort Wayne, Indiana, playing guitar, keyboards, and performing vocals on this release. He also collaborated with 11 other musicians, all performing various instrumental or vocal parts. Elise released recently on March 2nd, 2019.

The first song, “Heist” opens with some bass guitar, and piano chords very much out of the 70s. This song is very classic sounding, there’s even a harmonizing chorus in the background. All the instruments and vocals come together to make a solid soft rock offering. This easily sounds like a 60’s song transported to the modern day, fitting Mitchell’s description.

“Just a Face” includes some electric organ, again very 60’s. Mitchell’s vocals aren’t as melodic on this song, but works with the slightly harder guitar riffs. I really like the organ in this one, another band that uses it to good effect is Star One, a progressive metal act with lyrics about sci-fi movies. For instance, their song “The Eye of Ra”, is about the 1994 Stargate movie.

“License Plate” opens with acoustic guitar strumming, and accordion. This one, rather than rock, is along the line of bluegrass. It’s ok, but country generally isn’t my thing.

The soft rock sound is back in “Salo”. However, I’d say this one is 70’s rather than 60’s, forgoing the stylings of “Heist” or “Just a Face”. The lack of musical flairs make this one rather generic, though the vocals use more of a speaking style rather than sung. There’s a short acoustic solo at the end though, which is a small plus.

“World in Her Eyes” continues the 70’s mood, sounding like a song you would hear in a lounge, complete with brass and multiple percussive elements. The relaxed jazzy atmosphere is really nice, and the brass even has a small solo. This one’s pretty good.

The last song, “Elise” firmly stays in the 70’s, but leans on the rock side again. Several additions, like the slight country touch to the guitar, add depth, keeping it from falling to the same fate as “Salo”. There’s two guitar solos at 3:00 and 4:45, and the famous guitar note pattern throughout Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)” is included – namely at 4:28 – in the background. The song fades out with the second solo.

Elise is a good modern take on 60’s-70’s soft rock, with a few surprises here and there. Two songs missed the mark for me, but the other 4 were pretty decent. People who like 60’s and 70’s styled pop-rock should check this out, as well as everyone who says modern music can’t capture the same sound.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Kevin is a graduate from Central Washington University, where he was awarded a Bachelors degree in Professional and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Silverdale, Washington, where he explores new food and drink, goes to concerts, and works on personal projects.

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