Neighborhood Goliath is the brainchild of Trevor Dion Nicholas (Lead Vocalist/Rhythm Guitar/Keyboards/Lyrics) and J.S.T. Andrews (Bass Guitar/Saxophone). Both men pull in outlandish and overlapping influences to form their unique version of Alternative Indie R&B. Musical experimentation began between the two in 2011 and expanded to working with guitarists Tim Samples, Matt Robertson, Brian Ruppenkamp and Gary Lee. Contributing percussionist Joey Rauso and E. Cole helped to shape a musical experience that is surprising yet familiar. Trevor’s powerful voice is blended with various live vocal samples, created with the aid of additional vocalists Shauna Alexander, Bryan Demond Williams and Lauren Reynolds.
“Between Satellites & Settling”, the debut EP by Neighborhood Goliath, is an amazingly diverse and emotionally satisfying album. “Animal” opens the EP with an infectious mid-tempo rocker (You’ll hit the repeat button for this one, multiple times in a row). “Waking Life” follows with an ominously, apocalyptic lyrical theme, dealt out with the intense line, “Up to my neck in what I’ve strangled out of you.”
Right from the start, it is clear the great strength of Neighborhood Goliath is that their music, lyrics, instrumentation and vocals all come together to communicate strong emotions such as longing, pain, vulnerability and torment, sprinkled with faint desires of hope and redemption; sometimes all within the same song. Just how many contrasting emotions can you read through the four lines from the track, “Animal”:
“I can’t think under such duress
So I sink my teeth into happiness
Now there’s a tear in your wedding dress
If I’m lonely I’m doing it wrong”
Throughout the EP, the impression is that these guys sound like they are all on the same creative wavelength. Their songs are so strongly written, so self-assured, so poetic, whimsical and multi-layered, that the formula would just not work if somebody was even slightly out of sync with the overall Neighborhood Goliath creative ethic.
I rant against the corporate nature of music today, as much as anyone. I hate the direction that it has gone in and the complete unoriginality of virtually all formats. Nonetheless, it is still possible to pick and choose a few fine artists and albums out of the whole mess. Neighborhood Goliath is certainly one of them. They make a wonderful change from the poppy, and manufactured groups that occupy the charts these days.
You only have to listen to the poetic brilliance and chord progressions of “Cemetery Charm”, the atmospheric, ever-building rhythmic tempo “Of Atoms & Eve”, or the sheer rock power of “Suburban Genius”, to understand that this is no ordinary band. Over and above the excellent instrumentation, J.S.T. Andrews’ rampant bass lines, the arrangements and production aspects, what truly sets Neighborhood Goliath apart, is their superb songwriting and Trevor Dion Nicholas’ astoundingly unique vocal phrasing – as he switches between Rock, Soul and R&B intonations – between verse and chorus.
In navigating today’s music scene, with teenage divas and ageing balladeers, angry rappers and droning rockers, Neighborhood Goliath comes out with an EP that straddles the art of poetry and rhythm, rather majestically. And they wrap it up in gorgeous melodies awash with emotion. The bittersweet alt-rock of “Between Satellites & Settling” bleeds into powerfully sung, glowing guitar-based pledges that will bounce around your heart and head for days on end!