Winona Avenue is going back to basics with their brand of pop-rock. The release of their debut album includes eight previously released tracks put together in a nice little package featuring four additional power-pop anthems.
In regards to their debut album, Winona Avenue’s lead vocalist Daniel Deputy states, “I choose to write music that can encourage the listener. If I didn’t write lyrics that could make a positive difference in the listener’s life, then I’d feel as if I was doing a disservice to the listener.”
Daniel describes he prefers to use his platform in the music scene to encourage others rather than tear them down. But does Winona Avenue’s debut album do just that? Or is it just the same old pop-rock wannabe sound? Let’s find out.
Move This Town:
“Move This Town” has a great ’80s power pop romantic comedy vibe that vibes just the correct way for a hot summer night. Instrumentally, “Move This Town” plays it more on the safe side but with great results for the overarching sound of the track. I love the usage of synth as a backbone to Daniel’s hopping guitar riffs and his brother David’s popping beats.
When it comes to pop-rock intro songs, it doesn’t get much better than “Move This Town.” Listeners will be singing, “We can move this town tonight. Let’s move this place” all night and day.
“I reached a point where I saw the path/Divide into a crossroad in my life/And I realized/One way faced never-ending defeat,” does it get any more real than these lyrics? I don’t think so. As someone who has faced the demons along that same crossroad more than once, I can tell you that “Future Me” understands this predicament entirely.
“Future Me” is a truth bomb wrapped in a nice pop-rock bow just waiting to unravel. Everything from the track’s subtle but punchy instrumentals to the way Daniel hits his pre-calculated notes is pure perfection. “Future Me” is certainly one of the album’s top tracks, and I’ll most likely have it on repeat from time to time.
The song that first introduced me to Winona Avenue, a song I’m sure most of you might have had a run-in with as well if you were using Instagram heavily late last year. Fun fact; I never wanted to like this song. I thought it popping up as an ad on my feed a few times a day was hella annoying. But, I did eventually give the entire track a listen and fell madly in love with it. It’s forever been in my musical psyche ever since.
A fun, catchy, and self-evolving tune. “December Night” is like a warm hug in the middle of a snowstorm. The best track on Winona Avenue’s debut album is also a track I could see being a contender in Blast out your Stereo’s: Song of the Year Extravaganza.
Instrumentally, “December Night” continues to see the brothers playing it a bit safe but paying more tribute to their 2000’s era power pop overtures and subtle melody carrying riffs and fills, which truly help this track soar to greater heights. Sometimes subtle is better.
Did anybody say they missed 2007-era pop-punk? The Deputy brothers have you covered with “Paradise.” Sounding like a b-side track off any of Simple Plan’s fantastic albums is a major plus for this small outfit out of Indianapolis. Following in the footsteps of “December Night” wasn’t going to be easy, but “Paradise” does an amazing job of keeping the album’s energy at a growing pace, keeping feet moving and hips dancing enough to be memorable.
“Paradise” features one of the album’s catchier choruses that I can’t wait to hear in a live setting if the brothers ever make it out to Southern California. Seriously, listeners will be singing, “You’re gonna live this life to the best/To the best/You’re living in a paradise,” like there’s no tomorrow.
Dancing In The Pouring Rain:
Where “Paradise” holds the trophy for the album’s catchier chorus, “Dancing in the Pouring Rain” holds gold for having the album’s catchier verses. The moment I heard “Dancing in the Pouring Rain,” I was already humming, “I’m waking up from this dream/Into cold reality/And I realize I was dreaming all along.”
“Dancing in the Pouring Rain” isn’t my favorite track on the album, and it’s certainly not the strongest. But, it does an amazing job at bringing expectations back in line and is a fun pop-rock funhouse. If you’re looking for a fun and semi-catchy pop-rock tune, this one will carry you for quite a few repeats.
If “December Night” is Winona Avenue’s “Let It Be,” then “Masterpiece” is the band’s “Yesterday.” A self-glorifying hit that will pick up listeners, giving them the confidence to feel like they can do anything. When Daniel said, he enjoyed making songs that empower, “Masterpiece” is 100% what he was referring to.
When it comes to religious undertones, there’s only ever one rule; it’s better not to be too much on the preachy side. It alienates a whole side of a band’s fanbase, and the best bands around understand this, with Winona Avenue showcasing their understanding of these rules when it comes to “Masterpiece.” An empowering power ballad that was designed to pick listeners up out of the darkness.
“Sometimes I feel that a nightmare is crashing on me/In a room where the darkness is all I can see,” my gosh, the energy in “Security” is phenomenal. Please give me more of this right into my veins. Hopefully, if the Deputy brothers are already writing out new music, there’s more of this energy front and center in future releases. When it comes to the best song, “Security” was the only track to almost tie with “December Night,” and if you go back and read my spot on that track, you know that’s a big deal.
“Security” is fast, brutal, and all over the place in the best possible way. A desperation storyline that’s thrown right into hellfire only to be saved with overpowering love and peace of mind. The brothers outdid themselves with this one, and I say that having more than eighty plays on the track. It’s a beautiful mistake of sound that flourishes into a glowing butterfly.
Alive In You:
This one is all David Deputy. Hitting it hard behind the kit, pushing the band towards the finish line in glorious fashion. Unfortunately, “Alive in You” just doesn’t fit with the album’s previous seven tracks and stands out way too much that it implodes the consistent flow that was previously showcased from “Move This Town” to “Security.”
Not a bad song in its own right. Not what I was expecting from the track’s flow thus far. This one is a skip, at least in regards to myself. Listeners might love it, and I hope they do. As someone who loves a good flow from point A to point B, it’s just not there.
“Beautiful Beginning” manages to bring things back to form where it dropped off from “Alive In You.” Instrumentally, “Beautiful Beginning” fits into the rhythms and cohesive nature of the rest of the album. Unfortunately, because it’s a track that has to bring momentum back into the spotlight, it just doesn’t catapult high enough.
It’s a decently catchy song but falls a bit short of not sounding forced. I enjoy the track for what it is, but I can’t see myself coming back to this one when I give the album additional spins throughout the year. Compared to tracks like “Move This Town,” “December Night,” and “Dancing in the Pouring Rain,” “Beautiful Beginning is trying its best to bring up the album’s second half with no additional support up to this point, which is a shame coming off a pretty badass first half.
Sadly, “Great Escape” continues to try and prop back up Winona Avenue’s debut album. Listeners should feel hyped and excited at this point in the album, not trying to play catch up to the energy displayed in the album’s first seven tracks. Now, don’t get me wrong. As standalone songs, “Beautiful Beginning,” “Great Escape,” and even “Alive in You” are pretty great.
But, when you have to look at a piece of art like this album as a whole, these three tracks just don’t fit in. It’s kind of like putting a wrong puzzle piece into a slot it just doesn’t belong in. Instrumentally, “Great Escape” is still playing catch up, attempting to display the brothers’ high energy and truth-telling lyrical structures but falling a bit too short. If I’m honest, I struggled through this second half.
Only One Thing:
Thankfully, all it took was one thing to set us back on course. “Only One Thing” manages to bring things back into focus for a highly memorable second-to-last track. This track is beautiful, soulful, and just had me smiling from ear to ear, regardless of the themes presented, which present themselves as a bandaid being ripped right off.
“I’d never go back and change it at all,” so much truth in just one line. Listeners will hook on instantly with feelings of their own struggles and surviving. Instrumentally, it’s a very subtle track, but in the few whispers of instrumental bliss, one can find peace in the darkness. Lyrically, I hope the band has more of these in their back pockets. This is what will send them to the stars.
Day Of Our Lives:
With the help of “Only One Thing,” Winona Avenue’s debut album finds its curtain call with a homerun slide in the form of “Day of Our Lives.” Bringing things back full circle, the high energy displayed in the album’s opener, “Move This Town,” is back and front center. It’s no secret that I’m most hard on title tracks and ending songs when it comes to albums.
It makes me very happy that I didn’t have to talk down “Day of Our Lives,” Instead, I have it on one of the playlists that I listen to quite often. Everything from the larger-than-life instrumentals to Daniel’s vocal delivery is pure perfection. Ending on a high note gets these brothers some major cookie crumbs.
With a few rough patches in their path, Winona Avenue’s debut album manages to be a fantastic listen that will have listeners, including myself coming back for more. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing how these brothers improve their musical identity with each new release. Also, can these brothers get to Southern California quicker? I need to experience these songs in a live setting.
Winona Avenue, you’re on my list, and I keep close eyes on my list. Thanks again to the brothers for reaching out and getting me to listen to their debut release; it was a fun time, and as mentioned, besides those three tracks that I personally didn’t enjoy, it was one of the better listens I’ve had this year.
Also, as I mentioned in the review itself, there are millions of listeners out there regardless of what I said. This is just one person’s opinion. If you’d like to keep tabs on all things Winona Avenue, make sure to head on over to their official website, where you can connect with the Deputy brothers via the band’s social channels.