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Oaks - "Bravo!" (CD/EP)

Oaks - "Bravo!" CD/EP cover image

"Bravo!" track listing:

1. Big Sta
2. Reeling
3. Spine
4. River
5. Kix 4 Free
6. Deerhead

Reviewed by on September 24, 2010

"The truth about 'Bravo' is that it certainly gets better with repeated spins. The first two tracks, 'Big Sta' and 'Reeling,' are not on the same level of quality as the other songs..."

Some albums get better with repeated listens. Such is the case with “Bravo,” the debut release from San Diego, California’s Oaks. At first listen the six track EP is simply a bit boring and nothing seems to jump out and stick within the mind. The opening track, “Big Sta,” is by far the weakest cut on the disc, which sounds an awful lot like Guns N’ Roses, which is not good. As the album progresses onwards though, things do get better.

“Spine” is a more enjoyable song than the first two, being more focused around the inclusion of melody and hooks. While still containing that hard rock energy it has a little more of a Baroness feel to it. The drum work on “Bravo” is always on point too, and especially here with “Spine.” The bass is also always prominent and thick, with its heavy distortion – essential for an album like this. “River” is an even better track with a strong Deep Purple meets Led Zeppelin vibe, sounding like something that could have been released way back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, while just slightly heavier. The only thing desperately missing from this EP is some blistering solos ala Jimmy Page. “River” ends with a guitar solo and although it is a very mid-paced solo, it does fit in very well.

“Kix 4 Free,” while horribly titled, is the best and longest song on the record and has a strong stoner rock influence. The vocals are at their peak on this track as well, drifting between the gritty sleaze style and a more melodic croon during the more mellow sections. The heaviest riffs found throughout the EP are also contained within this song, but so are the album’s only moments of clean guitar picking, which creates a cool synergy, especially with the clean guitars being buried behind the distortion. That element is a great effect that makes “Kix 4 Free” a great listen.

“Deerhead” is the track with the strongest metal influence. A good heavy metal riff drives through most of the song after a lengthy, and maybe unnecessary, intro. The distorted bass lines are again prominent here and add a unique dynamic to the song and the EP as a whole. The bass stands perfectly alongside the guitar, making for a destructive force. The vocals, as they are on the entire second half of the disc, are also very strong and engage well with the musical style. “Deerhead” is a good closer and Oaks could use a lot more songs like these.

The truth about “Bravo” is that it certainly gets better with repeated spins. The first two tracks, “Big Sta” and “Reeling,” are not on the same level of quality as the other songs which is unfortunate, having them be the first two tracks to lead off the EP. What is good about “Bravo” though, is once those two stinkers are out of the way you get a badass EP of classic tinged hard rock that brings to mind some of rock’s most revolutionary old school acts, with enough of a modern approach to keep it interesting.

Highs: From "Spine" onwards, the EP is fantastic.

Lows: The first two tracks are bad, and sound too much like Guns N' Roses.

Bottom line: A debut EP that seemingly visits the sounds of classic rock's best acts, yet manages to stay modern.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)