miniaturized: miniaturized [Album Review]

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Self-Released [2023]

According to the bio for the release from the San Diego band’s self-titled debut, the band miniaturized formed to play a one-off charity event for MusicCares, which was a tribute to Tom Petty. No doubt inspired by the way the master craftsman and inspired songwriter wrote music that rocked with undeniable authority, while delivering the kind of organic melodic hooks that connect with a wider audience, singer/songwriter Timothy Joseph began to craft the songs that make up miniaturized, an album produced by Mitch Easter. Of course, Easter was originally associated with Southern alternative band Let’s Active, and production work with Don Dixon on early R.E.M. as well as The Connells, Love Tractor, and Pavement, and more recently participated in a series of Big Star live concert events alongside R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, the dBs’ Chris Stamey and appeared on The Salt Collective’s recent collaborative release.

The opening track, “Riots” opens with the line, “Let’s start at the top/this is a sentiment song/and just a point of reference as life gets on/and just a moment taken/a melody to recall/so you remember what it felt like once the feeling’s gone/it’s as loud as it can get/it’s amazing sound I guarantee you that,” which more or less serves as a manifesto of the band’s intentions. That first song builds from a simple couple chords on the electric guitar that build around a catchy bassline, and the song’s intentional focus on balancing their rocking inclinations with a accessible sing-along melodic sensibility. The essential Big Star-catchiness shows up throughout the 14-song album, on “Blue Glass,” the faster, power-pop of songs like “The Suitor,” “The Most,” “Gemstone” with it’s big guitar riff hook used judiciously until it builds to a great rock finale, the skitterish “Perfect Angles,” and the set closing rock anthem “Why Don’t We Play God.”

Besides Joseph who plays guitar and sings, miniaturized includes drummers Mario Rubalcaba and Chris Prescott, and bassists Brian Desjean and Chris Torres, but on the extended but vague credits on the band’s bandcamp page they thank Don Dixon for playing as well, so perhaps there were additional players adding to the band’s substantial guitar sound. Either way, it’s solid and as exemplified in the self-titled rock march, “Miniaturized”: “we all end up the same size.”

Drifting in and out of their various pop/rock musical influences in the jangly guitar rock universe, miniaturized defines its own sound in the end, with nods to the likes of Pixies, The Feelies, early R.E.M. and all things power/pop. The album’s bandwidth includes a variety of smart, lighter edged songs like “It’s Science,” “Right There” and “Cave In,” which like the opening track starts simply enough only to build toward a solid sing-along chant and some fun guitar playing. Miniaturized finds a solid balance, laying a foundation, no doubt, for future creative ventures. In the meantime, this fine self-titled debut is worthy of our attention in this crowded musical field, one that’s earned multiple listens alongside the greats they count as influences.

“The Most” / “The Suitor” / “Shy Don’t We Play God”

Big Star / R.E.M. / The dB’s

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Brian Q. Newcomb

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