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Utopia Press - Utopia Press Award winner

Utopia Press
Utopia Press
by Mike McMahan at 18 May 2021, 2:14 AM

It is indeed a rare find for me to be affected so deeply by one song. It has already happened a couple of times, this year; possibly the hangover from the absolute shit-show that was 2020, with COVID and so much socio-political unrest looming about. I opened the promo material to prepare this review for UTOPIA PRESS’S debut release, which is eponymous, and fired straight into the song “10,000 Worries” …and there it was again. It felt immediately that this band was in my head. The sheer beauty and brilliance of the song itself simply defies description, and it is one you must hear for yourself to completely understand the emotions that it is capable of bringing about. Opening YouTube immediately, I found the official video release for the song, and was floored. Such was my introduction to the band UTOPIA PRESS. Judging from this debut release, it promises to be quite pleasant association, indeed.

UTOPIA PRESS is a four-piece band, hailing from Montreal, Canada. They have spent the last two years writing and recording, but the lion’s share of this record, according to the PR release, came about during the COVID lockdown. Several specially invited guitarists, Lawrence ConnollyDarryl StevensMichael GreenfieldLyle Robinson and Bryan Martin, recording from home, helped to flesh out the project. The songs here are very well written, and convey a variety of influences throughout the fourteen song, approximately one-hour release: from Rock and Grunge to Blues and Jazz leanings. I heard everything from ROLLING STONES to COUNTING CROWS in the band’s work.

“10,000 Worries”, with its laid-back groove and gorgeous, haunting harmony vocals, is by no means the only found jewel on this record. There are several. “Took The Wrong Way” is another great example of some stellar song craft, with a punchier sound and extremely clever lyrics. “Yesterday’s News” is another beauty, steeped in Blues and what I perceived to be ROLLING STONES’ influence, and features another brilliant lyrical turn. “Devils’ Got My Number” has a particularly nasty little groove to it, again VERY Blues influenced in its sound. “I Like The Way You” is another STONES’ influence shining through.

These guys are damned good. The musicianship and writing are both top shelf all the way through this record, and the production values are fantastic, particularly for an indie release. The album was released digitally in early March of 2021, and a vinyl release is apparently on the way. If you are searching for new material, look no further than the gigantic bee, looking at you from a record jacket. You won’t be disappointed.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. 10,000 Worries
2. Took The Wrong Way
3. Yesterday’s News
4. Just Another Day
5. Devils’ Got My Number
6. Truly
7. Everything Is A Lie
8. Lonely World
9. I Like The Way You
10. Still Alive
11. Quicksand Of Your Love
12. All That You Are
13. Going Backwards
14. Sideways
Tom MacDonald – Guitar and Vocals
Paul Doonan – Drums
Hugo Berthiaume – Bass
Mario Calcagni – Piano, Organ, Strings, Hammond B3, Synths, Vocals
Record Label: Big Ray Records/Independent


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Edited 30 January 2023

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