Highland Park Optimist Club – Kitchen Tapes (Demo EP) – 2016

highland park

So this is the first time I’ve ever written about a demo and we don’t write about EPs (except when we do) but this one grabbed me. I almost didn’t write about it even though I’ve literally listened to it at least once a day since it was released. There’s two reasons for that, Highland Park Optimist Club is Paul Grant, one of our new contributors (even if he hasn’t written anything and that page is blank); the other reason being that I hate writing about my friends’ music. Sure I do it, a lot, but I always worry about them not liking my review. I decided that with the disclosure that he’s on staff and a friend, that I’d go ahead. You could have probably done with less explanation so let’s get on with the review.

No relationship is perfect but some people are better at catching that in song that others. Paul’s youth shows through in these lyrics and that can be hit or miss but in this case it’s dead on. The stories he tells are passionate and vibrant, even though everything’s gone tits up for him. I’m literally old enough to be this kid’s father and it not be socially awkward and he’s managed to drag me back to a time when burning your ex’s shit was done out of passion and not simple malice. I swear I can smell the CDs burning in my dad’s Old Smokey (yeah, he wasn’t happy about that) after one particularly interesting break up. These three stories are set to a perfect backdrop of minimalist guitar which only adds to the rawness and overall tone. Toss in a couple of meta-references about the scene and you apparently have all the ingredients to grab my full attention.

That said, it’s not a perfect record. I would love to see more confidence in the vocals when he releases an actual record and not a demo. Youth and passion do only go so far in the end. That said I think there’s a lot of promise here and this is a damn fine demo. Paul is someone you’re going to want to follow. I have a feeling he’ll get over his apparent fear of the mic and when that happens I’m going to get to say that I wrote about him before he was discovered and you’ll all have been there since the beginning.