Monday, April 14, 2014

Album Review: "Not a Trampoline" by Rob Cantor


Rob Cantor isn't new to the music business, but Not a Trampoline is his first full-length solo work. Prior to this, Cantor released two comedic singles, "Shia LeBeouf" and "Christian Bale is at Your Party." Going even further back, he was a member of Tally Hall. It's very exciting to hear what he has to offer with his first album.

Not a Trampoline begins with the deep and dark "Ghost," which seems to improve with each listen. "Ghost" represents a natural step in the progression of Cantor's talent as a songwriter. It works on multiple levels: first as a catchy pop tune, next as a spooky story song, and finally as a philosophical piece. "Ghost" was a great choice for a single, and it's followed by the first single Cantor released off of this album: "Old Bike." I initially believed "Old Bike" to be just an attempt to recapture the success of Queen's "Bicycle Race," but it's really its own piece. The female vocals bring to mind Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Don't Come Around Here No More." "Old Bike" is a lighthearted Cantor track that will be perfect for any bicycling playlist.

"Garden of Eden" is an energetic piece about a Frankenstein-esque creator and his creation. The delivery is beautiful and unique, but the song's failing comes in the ending fade, the likes of which I haven't heard on anything since a 60s album. "Garden of Eden" is followed by "Rendezvous." On first listen, "Rendezvous" is very simple with a dance beat, but the song really works. The vocals Madi Diaz adds to the track help it not only with its complexity, but with the illusion that it could have come direct from the Drive soundtrack.

Next comes "I'm Gonna Win," a song fans of Tally Hall might recognize from the earlier incarnations including "All of My Friends." This final product, credited as written by both Rob Cantor and Joe Hawley is more empowering and with more direction than "All of My Friends," and has more dimension than Tally Hall's version of "I'm Gonna Win." That's not to say it doesn't lose something by being less haunting than "All of My Friends," but overall, "I'm Gonna Win" has been developed into a great song.

Things are wound down for the more acoustic "All I Need Is You." "All I Need Is You" is almost like a lullaby in parts, but picks up in others. "All I Need Is You" wouldn't have been out of place on Tally Hall's Good & Evil, and I wonder if it's a leftover from the years Good & Evil was in production. Either way, it has an outstanding, gif-based music video:


The album continues with "Flamingo," which I could hear as a club dancing song apart from how incredibly bizarre it is, in a very Cantor manner. The narrator states "I feel like I'm a shy enormous pink flamingo man." "Flamingo" gives way to "La Telenova," which is a departure from anything Cantor has produced to this point. "La Telenova" means "the soap opera," and is a collaboration with Jhameel. "La Telenova" is a very modern song, which also features some aspects of 60s folk pop in the melody, 90s pop in the bridge, and latin pop rhythms.

"In Memoriam" is a flowing, melodic tribute to Alan Alda, speaking of his life in the past tense, despite the fact that he's still alive. After "In Memoriam" (which is just over a minute long), comes "Let Your Mother Know." "Let Your Mother Know" is one of the strongest tracks in the latter part of the album. It's upbeat and catchy, and makes you want to move your body.

Nearing the end of the album, "Perfect" is a collaboration with Andrew Horowitz, and features his signature keyboards and sentimentality. Cantor adds his own style to "Perfect," but it's very noticeable that Horowitz had a hand in it.

Not a Trampoline closes with "Lonely (But Not Alone)," another personal-sounding piece, more acoustic than anything else on the album. As a closer, "Lonely (But Not Alone)" is near-perfect, winding the album down to an end.

Rob Cantor has a lot of musical talent, as a songwriter and lyricist, a vocalist and instrumentalist. Not a Trampoline is a great display of these talents. Not every song is perfect, but as a first solo work, Not a Trampoline is incredibly well done. I look forward to hearing more from Cantor and I encourage everyone to check out Not a Trampoline.

Rob Cantor is a singer-songwriter and instrumentalist. Not a Trampoline is his debut solo album.

Not a Trampoline can be purchased here.

Check out my interview with Rob Cantor here!

4 comments:

  1. This is very well written and well made. Will definitely look through the archives for more suggestions.

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  2. A great review, well done :)

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