I have to qualify myself as a ‘new fan’, because I really didn’t know anything about this band until now, so what I’ve found out is the following: Red Shift were formed in late 2015 and are based out of New York. The quintet consists of Tim Ortiz (Vocals, Synth, Guitar), Kieran Dupper (Guitar, Synth), Chad Jones (Guitar), Andrew Frasier (Bass), and Eric Hobus (Drums).
Though relatively new to the scene, members have collaborated in various bands since 1999. Red Shift recorded their first single, “Around The Sun,” in February 2016, and have now completed their first EP, “By Design”, which includes 3 more tracks besides “Around The Sun”.
The songs are all hard, crunchy, and catchy as hell. I could easily see just about every song on this EP making it to radio airplay. They are all very radio-friendly. And normally, too much radio-friendliness and catchiness would turn me away – but not here. In addition to the powerful hooks, these songs have a deep groove that grabs me and keeps me listening.
So I can’t fault the music, at all. These guys are great musicians – soaring vocals, slamming guitars, and a very solid rhythm section, with some really interesting chord progressions. They are here to rock their hearts out, and certainly the songs on display here are pure evidence of that fact. But at the same time they are exquisitely intricate.
The EP kicks off with straight upbeat song, which is also the title track, “By Design” before things start kicking into a higher gear, reminding music fans of why they should fall in love with Red Shift. Progressive elements start rumbling in on, “Around The Sun”, and going forward, each subsequent track melds into a well-rounded tune that sounds meticulously crafted and built from the ground up, note by note, bar by bar.
Dark, chugging and melodic, “Around the Sun” is an ambitious song where the band steps out of its comfort zone and right up onto the plate. They hold nothing back and smoke with passion and grit. And the rewards clearly outweigh the risks.
They repeat that same progressive hard-hitting formula on “Victorious”. The guitars explore and expand, building riff upon riff of sublime power, as Tim Ortiz asphyxiates the grinding rhythm with douses of moody melodics. The song is laden with fullness in its sound, putting forth a good deal of emotion, and a catchy groove delivered by the powerhouse engine room of Andrew Frasier on bass and Eric Hobus on drums.
The rocking good times continue with the EP closer “Heads Or Tails”, which is more of a straightforward ballbreaker in the vein of the opening title track. That said, Red Shift prove to be a totally kick ass band, from start to finish. From the drums to the guitars, bass and vocals this quintet lacks nothing.
So even though I started out knowing nothing about Red Shift, after only 4 tracks of energetic, emotional rock with a nice progressive twist, I now know all I have to about them. The EP “By Design” not only meets the standards I was expecting from a competent alternative rock band but surpasses them and delivers a solid recording truly proving the weight of a band that has grown musically and lyrically in the shortest possible time.