Cooking with Gyazette

Cooking with Gyazette
Originally published in the Sunday Arts Magazine of the Sunday Guardian for April 28, 2013.

Straight up, Gyazette is one of the most musical local bands I’ve heard in a while and that confidence is the first thing that you really hear on their debut album, Bread.

The rhythm section, accomplished bassist Corey Wallace and lockstep tight drummer Jonathan Otway, keep the groove bubbling across the six songs on the new album while guitarists Nikolai Salcedo and John Hussain create a rich atmosphere across the album.

I’m guessing that Salcedo is responsible for the Melvin Ragin (Wah Wah Watson to Motown connoisseurs) influenced rhythm guitar that underpins the album while Hussain threads the music with shimmering riffs and solos that recall nothing less than the wildly varied, though understated work of Andy Summers with The Police.

The result is an album that’s so powerfully played that it takes a special effort to listen to the lyrics, which are more notable for the punchy lines that Salcedo delivers with strangled angst than their narrative clarity.
The band steers clear of obvious expressions of their musical influences, delivering a funk-based, rock polished album with hip, knowing arrangements that are uniquely their own.

Songs like Bread, which opens the album with a throbbing bass line seem grander when you yell their chorus lines along with Salcedo.
If you think shouting “I really want to buy some bread” is fun, then be warned that hollering “Who is the captain of this ship?” from Captain, the album’s closer and a howling, defiant update of Gypsy’s Sinking ship, is likely to get you sidelong glances from the wrong company.

That’s why it’s so puzzling that Mango, the most focused and quietly lascivious piece of writing on the album, has such a convoluted chorus line. You’d think that a song that advocated walking away from stress and troubles to, um, pick a mango, would have merited a cleaner call to response.

There isn’t a dud on the six cut album, though the funky lavway beat on Dance We do and the menacing life-as-a-horror-story snarl of Jumbie are particular standouts.
Ultimately, the real disappointment is that on an album that barely clocks 32 minutes, Gyazette didn’t feel confident enough in their musicianship to stretch out this recording of their jams a bit more.

Their only real effort at showing their skill as players comes on the seven and a half minute ballad Not Good Enough, and even then, it feels a bit tentative.
Gyazette wants to say a lot with this first album and Salcedo has no hesitation about saying it loud, but the band is glossing over its most muscular endowments for no good reason.

It’s a mystery why they have relegated their powerful playing to a supporting role when to even the most casual listener, it’s the music that’s rising so temptingly on Bread.

Gyazette is...
Nickolai Salcedo - Lead Vocalist/Guitarist/Composer
John Hussain - Guitarist
Corey Wallace - Bassist
Jonathon Otway - Drummer
Tinika Davis - Percussionist
Shirleena Zola Grandsoult - Vocalist
Mandisa Granderson - Vocalist

Tracklist for Bread
Dance we do
Not good enough
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