Manifest Calling are releasing their CD “Retro Rock” on January 1st 2018. Just like the title of the album, the band’s eventful and fateful history goes back to another era. Performing at many iconic LA venues like the ‘The Roxy’, ‘The Troubadour’, ‘Gazzarri’s’, ‘Madam Wong’s’ as well as other music events and outdoor festivals during the 70’s and 80’s, Greg O’Kane (guitar, vocals) and Tony Wilson (Bass, vocals), became friends on the day they first met in the parking lot of ‘Music Lab Studios’ in Hollywood. Through a series of events the two parted ways, with Greg ending up in Ireland – first as a talented chef, then as a certified professional golfer, all the while playing in a popular cover band that included future members of Manifest Calling.
During this time Tony continued executing his craft in a number of critically acclaimed bands in and around Southern California, while the two friends occasionally met up in various parts of the world, sharing the same travelling bug. In 2015 Greg and Tony reunited in LA, and were joined by Amara (vocals) as well as Trevor Cullen (guitars & vocals) and Tommy Leonard (drums) from Ireland to complete Manifest Calling.
The result is the “Retro Rock” album – a strong AOR offering backed by interesting classic rock twists and unique progressive rock atmospheres, which is obviously sustained to a degree by the splendid production, but is ultimately created by effective and complementary playing from all members, as shown in the intriguing melodic opener “Touch The Sky”, and then confirmed beyond any doubt on the banging prog-rock tune “You Don’t Know”.
The vocal pitches are loud, crisp, and clear, while the drum beats come through excessively well, and the guitars bellow and bay on “Going Now”. For something a little edgier, look no further than “Without You”, which features some powerful, hooky guitar riffs lines, a great bass line and a solid, abrasive vocal from Amara. This is as good a rock tune as anything else on the album.
There really is no forced attempt here to update the band’s sound, or make the music more contemporary. Instead, Manifest Calling just seem to really want to sound like…Manifest Calling, and they absolutely succeed. Of course it’s retro, but it’s authentic retro, and by that I mean that the band comes by their sound honestly: there is no posing involved, it’s not derivative, it’s just the way these guys make music.
The tracks are beautifully executed, and impeccably crafted. The vocal harmonies are gorgeous, and the sound is lush and rich. None more so than on “Sorry My Love” – The vocals are strong and smooth, the drumming is tastefully shining in the background, while the guitar-work is polished and soaring.
“Lost In Time” is music that just feels good to listen to, and if you’re around my age, it might also cause some seriously trippy flashbacks. Something about that vocal melody and glistening guitar-work, just really brings back the best of the golden era of rock.
Manifest Calling struts to its own tightly wound musical clockwork, with each song on the album beating to a classic framework, and then getting layered from there. If you were a fan of finely crafted AOR and classic, or even progressive rock, then this album is definitely worth a listen.