Amateur- Every Little Thing
Album Review by Joslyn Danielson
A new group from Rochester just released their first full album this month. Ironically calling their band “Amateur”, their music is anything but. Until now, they’ve put out four singles, the first being in 2020. Like many covid bands, Amateur is finally gaining some footing and performing live all around the state, including KJ’s Hideaway in April of ‘22.
With a beachy, indie-rock sound, Amateur has always shown technical skill, but their new album “Every Little Thing” takes it to a new level. It’s clear that with each rehearsal they grow tighter and more dynamic as a group. They show musical similarities to other popular Southern Minnesota indie bands such as The Immaculate Beings, People’s Brothers Band, Karate Chop Silence, or Sleeping Jesus. The vibe is upbeat, positive, and dancey, yet introspective and ethereal; with choruses that will get stuck in your head nearly every time.
The dynamic energy in each song really impressed me upon first listen. With every new movement the music takes, it catches you by surprise. They are fond of lingering pauses right before kicking into a hard-hitting chorus or breakdown. The control of energy is impressive, and each song is a journey from start to finish. It’s easy for Indie/rock to become a little one-note or repetitive. Not Amateur. As soon as the instruments cut out for a slower moment, they bring this anticipation and build that puts you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the rush of energy when the breakdown drops.
I cannot write this article without mentioning the powerhouse that is Chris Tauzell’s vocals. The man has impressive range, both musically and stylistically. He fools you into thinking he’s a one-trick-pony with his smooth and vibey falsetto, only to bring the belt like a boss in the chorus of the same song. A belt not only fit for blues, but punk as well, as he makes clear in the track, “It Is What It Is”.
The band is comprised of five others. Justin and Jonathan Tauzell (on the drums and keys) are presumably brothers of Chris’, as well as Brody Heinzel on guitar, Alex Ortberg on the bass, and Amanda on harmonies. I really dug what Alex was putting down on that bass, with catchy lines and intricate fingerwork, he adds an element of groove and goes far above the ‘root chord trap’ that’s easy to fall into for the amateur bassist (pun intended). The group works very well together, each member adding a new layer to the sound, and each having their moment to shine.
None of this would hit the same without the great production. The mixing and mastering stood out to me, and it doesn’t always. It’s rare to be able to hear the texture of each instrument clearly, even when they’re all playing at once. You get the highs of the keys, and rich bass lines at the same time. A few songs have the addition of trumpet, saxophone, and female backup vocals, each adding a new and surprising element to the tracks.
I decided not to go into too much detail about each song for this review, because really, you should just go listen to it for yourself. Or even better, see them live in downtown St. Paul at KJ’s Hideaway this April. They have the chops and energy to put on a killer performance.