HGR CD Review: The Standing Cinema

THE STANDING CINEMA – MODERN ESCAPE (no label) Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Donovan Rice formed The Standing Cinema in 2011 with bassist Dave DeHart and drummer Bill Rose. Their six-song EP, Modern Escape, introduces listeners to a bright and catchy brand of British-rooted modern pop-rock. The melodies and arrangements recall the classic British pop sounds of the Beatles, but driven with a modern pop/rock gusto more consistent with the Foo Fighters or Goo Goo Dolls. The vocals and harmonies are crisp and catchy; and the presence of piano, accordion and horns flesh out the arrangments and give the sound color and depth. Quarky asides during the melodies aren’t out of the question, and lend to occasional unpredictability during the songs; such as the ragtime piano edge during the playful question-and-answer “Quite an Event” and the closer “Property Owners” with its tempo and intensity shifts, capped with a psychedelic reverb ending. Pop hooks create captivating ear candy on songs like the opener “High Praise” and “Maple Shade,” and the group rocks at a brisker tempo on the title track “Modern Escape.” (A seventh song, “Stay, Stand, Stare,” is available on the digital version of the EP.) The Standing Cinema’s performances are airtight and tasteful, and Rice’s voice demonstrates consistently solid range and personality. Produced by the band and engineered by Rice, Modern Escape sounds clear and balanced, with the instruments and voices carrying the day, and just the right touch of studio reverb and effects to lend a late ‘60s flavor. The Standing Cinema merges modern and nostalgia on Modern Escape, offering listeners a pleasant escape through its retro-flavored sonic journey. (The EP can be obtained through the group’s website, www.thestandingcinema.com.)