Band – The Broken Relics
Album / Label – With Reverence / Broken Relics Records
Rating – 9 / 10
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to do a profile on an up-and-coming quartet of youngsters who were just getting their feet wet in the musical world.
The Broken Relics hadn’t even played any shows in the Capital City yet, but they had made a name for themselves online through tireless self-promotion. They had just finished putting together an EP that they told me was going to be their “Introduction to the world.”
Since then, the band has played a handful of shows. This weekend they will release With Reverence, a six-song EP recorded at Vibe Music Studio in Nashville, TN. They informed me that producer John Burke brought out the best of each of them, forcing them to work harder, truly investing in their abilities as musicians. The band is playing a release show this Saturday at Craft & Vinyl, and I’ve got the inside scoop on the new record for you.
The EP begins with the sparkling guitar line of Don’t Look Back, the first song that the band released in February. The song caught like wildfire, being featured on 99.7 The Blitz, PromoWest’s “Local Discover” playlist, as well as being a surprise smash in the band’s hometown of Youngstown, OH.
“They play the video at our old high school (Austintown Fitch) during the warm-ups at the basketball games,” explains bassist Alex Jakovina. “People really get pumped up and sing along. It was really cool to see that happen.”
“It’s honestly my favorite song to play live,” says singer and guitarist Bryce Warmouth. “It’s a fun song that people like to sing along with, and as a singer I really feed off of that energy.”
You can absolutely feel the Kings of Leon influences throughout the song, which is punctuated by a wild solo from lead guitarist Zach Warmouth midway through. The track is positive, uplifting, and lays the groundwork for everything that is to follow on the disc.
Got Away has a poppier, more upbeat feel to it than any other track on the record. You won’t find a ton of distortion on this EP, which hearkens back to another of their bigger influences, The Eagles. Drummer Zach Potkanowicz (aka Potsie) actually plays the guitar solo on this track, as Jakovina says it “just sounded great with him playing it on his left-handed Fender.” The song features a creative vocal harmony and really showcases Bryce’s unique voice and style, which the band describes as “a blend of southern twang and northeast Ohio grit.” Not at all what you’d expect from a band based in Columbus and Youngstown, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless.
Lost Again has a more somber tone to it than the previous two. The song builds slowly and is crafted around Bryce’s clever lyrical work. “I did it again, I took the sure way out. Everyone’s laughing while I’m running around…” sets the record straight on mistakes made in the past that shouldn’t be repeated.
Zach says it’s his favorite song to play live. “It’s kind of a culmination of all of my major influences, all in one song. There’s just something about the energy I feel when playing it, plus the emotional meaning behind the lyrics Bryce wrote.”
The band chose Lost Again as their second single to release from the EP. It was a solid choice due to the contrast between it and Don’t Look Back. Both songs have a unique sound that cannot be mistaken for another band, but they both have a feel to them that is not replicated within each other. Simply put, they’re a perfect one-two punch to introduce the world to the band.
The emotional high point of the record is Where The Creatures Roam. The previous three tracks feature much more of a classic rock sound, while this song beautifully brings the band into the twenty-first century, with a much deeper and more mature feel to it.
“Creatures is one of those songs that kind of fell out on paper,” admits Bryce. “It was a bunch of emotions that were built on my own struggles, and the struggles I was seeing around me. I wanted to scream into the void, and that’s exactly what I did with this song.
“Being honest with everyone and with myself was a relief,” he continues. “Creatures helped me do that. It literally took 11 minutes to write the finished product, because it touched on some extremely raw and real subjects. I think that people in the world crave someone to be there, and to tell them that it’s okay to take a few steps back. But, you HAVE to keep going.”
The song weighs in at a heavy 5:21, with each passing second pressing deeply on both your soul and your ears. Zach’s best solo on the entire record is featured in the outro of the song, and he admits that he did it in just one take.
Potkanowicz says that the younger Warmouth’s emotional tone carried the song for him. “When we recorded it, Bryce set the pace, and I just closed my eyes and really tried to put some emotion into the drums,” he describes. “It’s my favorite song to play live, because I can close my eyes again, forget there’s an audience and just play my heart out.”
It’s one of those tracks on a record where you have to stop, take a step back and breathe after listening to it. Lyrically, it threatens to reach inside of you and expose any darkness you may have been hiding. Musically, the quartet found a way to harness that emotion to create the sonic equivalent of a dagger, used in tandem to rip your heart right from your chest.
Fortunately, as the song concludes it is followed by piano-driven reprise, allowing the listener to softly come back to earth after being catapulted through a soul-stirring whirlwind.
Jakovina said that it wasn’t intentional, but it ended up working out perfectly for them. “It was actually quite spontaneous. There was this grand piano in the middle of the studio, and I recommended we try and use it on at least one of the songs in the record,” he clarified. “Potsie is just an amazing piano player, and together we all agreed to put it between the last two songs as sort of a reprise for Creatures.”
“A big part of it was how we wanted the EP to flow from one song to another, to make it feel more like a complete album,” finished Zach. “Once we came up with the idea in the studio, it was a no-brainer to put it where it is. It makes the transition from Creatures to The Mortal more meaningful, and certainly more cohesive.”
The Mortal slowly brings you to the conclusion of the EP, allowing you to breathe once more and reflect on the previous four tracks. All four members are prominently featured, with the Warmouth brothers’ guitars seamlessly playing off of each other, Jakovina’s bass carrying the song underneath along with the crashing cymbals and snare from Potkanowicz. The final lines of the record effectively lay things to rest, with Bryce howling “Now I’m not scared to die, no, but I sure ain’t ready to go…”
Yeah, you can go ahead and exhale now. Six songs might not seem enough to stir most people, but this EP is much more of a full record than you’d expect for only clocking at just under 22 minutes. The band had previously told me that they wanted each song to have its own identity, while still being true to The Broken Relics themselves. I’d say this six-pack is as good of an introduction to a band as you’ll get.
As far as musical debuts go, this is one of the better efforts I’ve seen from a local group in many years. The guys aren’t looking to copy anyone’s sound or play off trends; rather they set out to make a solid, unique record and made an album that is captivating from start to finish.
There’s no filler and no tracks to skip. It’s just a sincere collection of fantastic jams that should give almost every listener something to enjoy.
1. Don’t Look Back
2. Got Away
3. Lost Again
4. Where the Creatures Roam
5. Where the Creatures Roam – Reprise (piano interlude)
6. The Mortal
The Broken Relics – Lost Again