As nostalgia for twentieth century songwriting and rock and roll builds throughout a new generation, a new style of music is rising from shadows of the past. ‘Modern retro’ music, or contemporary music with vintage influence, is becoming increasingly popular, especially among young, indie bands. Mirage Box, a collaboration between songwriter Nick Coppola and instrumentalist and producer, Chris Capozza, bills itself in that category of modernized old fashion rock and roll.
Citing influences like the Beatles and the Stones, Mirage Box is a ‘celebration for the great songwriting and music production of the artist heyday of the late 60s.’ Their new four track EP is ‘Contents Under Pressure,’ a heavy-hitting collection of songs that are indeed reminiscent of an era once ruled by the Rolling Stones.
‘Rage’ opens up the album with a definite hint of British Invasion influence. It’s heavier than early Brit rock, though, and probably aligns more closely with the end of the decade’s music. (The Who, later Stones work, Zeppelin, etc.) It’s a very electric guitar heavy sound with overdriven distortion flowing through every second of the performance. It works, though, and musically, the song is mostly on par with its goal. The lead vocals get a bit drowned out by the production, though, and they’re quite tinny. The timbre of the vocal production is incredibly bright, which makes it a bit harsh on the ears alongside an equally bright offering of rocking guitars.
‘Juarez,’ the single of the record, is an immediate refuge from the chaotic nature of the previous track. Acoustically driven with splendid accenting synths, the song is produced much better than ‘Rage.’ The previous track had too much high-end on the EQ. ‘Juarez’ handles this much better. When the song does eventually explode into a rock opera of sorts, the vocals don’t get drowned out or thrown off the boat.
‘Last Beautiful Women’ is the highlight of the collection. With much higher, falsetto vocals, it feels somewhat innocent and beautiful. Lyrically, it’s also much stronger than its two predecessors. I love the harmonies that accompany the lead vocals on this song. Beatles influence? Most definitely.
‘Hot in the Keys’ closes out the album with an upbeat rocker similar to the opening. Again, though, the lead vocals seem to be mixed a bit poorly; it still sounds off. The vocalist on ‘Last Beautiful Women’ suits the music of Mirage Box in a much more fitting fashion. Musically, though, the riffing and structure of the final track is compelling enough to be a fun Brit-inspired garage rocker.
Mirage Box claims that audiophiles will love to don their best headphones and listen to their new music. I don’t know if I agree with that; about half the record suffers from too much high-end and imbalance between the instrumentation and vocals. At times, especially vocally, it sounds like the music was recorded in a giant tunnel. It’s a very admirable effort, though, and certainly worth checking out if you want to get your fix of retro-rock.
– Brett Stewart