Review: Passafire – Start From Scratch

Review: Passafire – Start From Scratch

Passafire – Start From Scratch
Track Listing
1.) Start From Scratch
2.) Dimming Sky
3.) Miss You
4.) Kiss My Head
5.) Hard To Believe
6.) Lorelie
7.) Train Wreck
8.) Rubber Bands
9.) Winter Wren
10.) Shapes and Colors
11.) La Fuenta
12.) Epiphany

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: Sept 20th, 2011
Record Label: FlameGuy Records
Official Website: Passafire Website

Group Background:
Originally formed by a group of college friends in Savannah, Georgia, Passafire has been on the scene since 2003 and has toured with bands like 311, Pepper, Michael Franti, and The Wailers. This year the band underwent a few transitions as they acquired a new keyboard player (Mike DeGuzman) and formed their own record label (FlameGuy Records). Passafire’s fourth studio album, Start From Scratch, has been long awaited and was included in The Pier’s “Most Anticipated Albums of 2011” list.

While most of the elements involved with the making of Start From Scratch are brand new to Passafire, they did keep one thing familiar. The guys decided to head back to Sonic Ranch Recording Studios in Tornillo, Texas – the same studio used to record their last album, Everyone on Every Night. It seems like every move was strategically planned and that the band sat down and really put a lot of thought into look, sound and feel of the new album.

Album Review:
“Start From Scratch is sounding like album of the year. I was really impressed.”

“Hearing Dimming Sky made my day so much better. Definitely gonna be up for Album of The Year.”

These are just a few of the comments buzzing around The Pier Forum in anticipation for Passafire’s new album dropping on September 20th, 2011 and I completely agree with them.

The name of the album, Start From Scratch, could not be a more literal description of Passafire’s journey this year. Formerly part of LAW Records, the guys decided to get their hands dirty and do it on their own this time by creating FlameGuy Records. This is also the first record they’ve ever done with a producer, and for their first go around they snagged a damn good one – Paul Leary. Leary has worked with everyone from Sublime to The Expendables and helped Passafire put together their most solid, complex, and evolved work to date.

“Dimming Sky” incorporates an instrument you don’t see used much in reggae music – the harmonica! And surprisingly, it fits perfectly with the upbeat, lighthearted nature of the track. By branching out and incorporating different instruments, like the harmonica, the sound becomes even more unique and solidifies Passafire’s spot as one of the most revolutionary bands on the scene at the moment. As one of two tracks released early to get fans hyped up about the new album, it’s definitely a good one to have in rotation.

When the song “Lorelie” begins it seem like it’s going to be a straightforward rock song, but as I’ve come to learn with Passafire – nothing is as it seems. The band is able to take organic elements like classic rock guitar and more artificial dub sounds and combine them in a way that doesn’t seem overdone in the slightest. If you like this song, you’ll definitely love the last track, “La Fuenta”, which follows the same general concept and is filled with crunchy rock guitar solos.

“Train Wreck” is the albums hidden gem. It’s more power ballad meets southern rock, and it’s easy to skip past since it does not have the attention grabbing first chords the others have. But if given the chance, you’ll appreciate how beautifully written and composed the song is. The tone is lush and delicious, which makes the entire track feel very personal and a little painful. Front-man Ted Bowne’s voice is highlighted on this track and we really get to hear him belt it out, which is a nice change from his otherwise more spoken word style.

Opening with a light, clean guitar solo, the song “Shapes and Colors” is a dynamic blend of rock, reggae and dub that overwhelms your senses and leaves you feeling flushed. One of my personal favorites, this song is much more than just a catchy tune. The lyrics flow together like poetry and the high tones of the guitar mixed with the low growl of the keys create an onslaught of viciously pleasing melodies within one song.

It’s invigorating to put in an album for the first time and hear something totally original. It replenishes my beliefs that there is more to the music of my generation than the over processed, artificial garbage in constant rotation on top 40 radio stations and MTV. Music is such a powerful tool that I almost expect bands to continue to raise the bar and push the limits if they plan on staying relevant.

Music (and fans taste in music) is always evolving and if bands don’t evolve with it, they can sometimes be left behind. Passafire has made it very clear with their new album, Start From Scratch, that they will always be ahead of their time and refuses to be forgotten.

  • To read The Pier’s latest Exclusive Interview w/Passafire, click HERE

    Written & Reviewed by: Ashley Allred

    [Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]