Return for Refund - Return for Refund
Rock Out of anyone you ask, I as a rampant and unapologetic GenXer, am probably the happiest of anyone to see the guitar-driven passion of the late 80s and early 90s making a comeback. Like any musical backslide, however, there are bands who will do it well and bands who will fall short. Then, there's Toronto band Return for Refund. I think this band has a lot of nerve comparing themselves to the likes of Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and even Black Sabbath, for Christ's sake. If emulating those legendary bands is their goal, falling short doesn't even come close to covering it for Return for Refund.

Formed in 2013, Return for Refund began when singer/rhythm guitarist Drew Clementino and lead guitarist Sasha Molotkow met and found that they clicked musically. Their first EP released late last year after they conscripted drummer Karlis Hawkins. Don't get me wrong; based on this self-titled release, Return for Refund's sound is clean and there is nothing necessarily wrong with the song composition or other technical aspects. The main issue comes down to musicianship and emotion. What's lacking on most of the songs is any kind of emotional connection from the band to their own music, and that comes through for listeners. It's really really really not anything like the forbears the band names as their influences, and the main reason is that lack of spark and emotive quality.

Frontman and rhythm guitarist Drew Clementino certainly seems to have a reasonable musical pedigree and a legitimate love of music when you hear him talk about it. While he says he idolizes bands like Nirvana, The Offspring and Black Sabbath, he also wanted the sound he produced in his work to be his own. The one thing I think he got right is that his vocals sound a bit like Dexter Holland from The Offspring in some places on the album, but in others we're looking more at the likes of Scott Stapp of Creed or Chad Kroeger of Nickleback. Not necessarily awful if you're going for pop rock, but I don't think that was Clementino's aim and I definitely don't want to listen to that kind of pabulum.

Lead guitarist Sasha Molotkow fancies himself a metal guitar player. Now I know I'm talking to a largely Swedish audience here, so I have to tell our readers the truth: this is in no way metal. By that I don't even mean that Solotkow's playing could be construed as metal but not up to the standards of Swedish or Norwegian players; I mean it's just not metal at all, so if you see this band advertised somewhere as metal, turn and run. Save yourself the anger. What we are instead looking at here is 80s or 90s hard rock with a little bit of shredding here and there. Again, his guitar work isn't bad; it's clean with clear tones, but just not what any educated music fan would perceive as "metal."

Drummer Karlis Hawkins is probably the most skilled musician in the band, and I really have no complaints about him. He has an interesting funk edge to most of his playing and he does his best to keep the rest of the band on track. He most likely writes his own rhythm tracks, and thank goodness he does because I'm not sure the band would have made it this far without him. In spite of their many issues, Return for Refund has already gained some recognition on the Canadian college rock charts. There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.

As I keep saying, the EP Return for Refund Released doesn't have anything necessarily wrong with it. The EP opens with 'The Fields,' a perfectly acceptable song for pop rock. 'TV Light' has some interesting politically-charged lyrics but not much going for it musically. 'Between My Sheets' comes as close as I think the band are capable of to Molotkow's weird idea of metal. 'YOLO' is the best song on the album as it is actually and definitively a punk song both in music and lyrics. It takes an ironic jab at pop culture, which again shows that there is some kind of disconnect between feeling and execution on this album. 'Some is Better than None' has a very poorly-executed rhythm guitar riff that just kind of spoils any potential it had. The album closes with a totally random song called 'Those Bombs,' which is not rock or punk or grunge or metal anything the band profess to hold dear musically. It's an odd country and blues mashup that is not only more pedestrian work from Return for Refund, but it just doesn't fit on this album at all.

So I'm really not sure, at the end of the day, whether Return for Refund's problem is a lack of passion or just literally not having the same definition of musical genres as most of us do. If I was told when I got this band's album and bio that they were hard rock with an inclination toward pop and country, I'm not sure I would be quite so confused or annoyed with them. Return for Refund are a perfectly acceptable pop rock band and if that's what they're going for, they got it dead-on. Please let them join the ranks of other pop rockers masking as hard rock like Nickleback and Creed because that's where they belong. If they're going for something a little more alternative, they have a long way to go and I'm not sure you can teach someone how to have musical integrity or passion. I know this a first pass, so maybe once they work together some more on defining their sound, Return for Refund will be able to relax a little bit and gain some of the passion and musicianship that's lacking here in the future.
3
Brutal Resonance

Return for Refund - Return for Refund

5.0
"Mediocre"
Spotify
Released off label 2015
Out of anyone you ask, I as a rampant and unapologetic GenXer, am probably the happiest of anyone to see the guitar-driven passion of the late 80s and early 90s making a comeback. Like any musical backslide, however, there are bands who will do it well and bands who will fall short. Then, there's Toronto band Return for Refund. I think this band has a lot of nerve comparing themselves to the likes of Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and even Black Sabbath, for Christ's sake. If emulating those legendary bands is their goal, falling short doesn't even come close to covering it for Return for Refund.

Formed in 2013, Return for Refund began when singer/rhythm guitarist Drew Clementino and lead guitarist Sasha Molotkow met and found that they clicked musically. Their first EP released late last year after they conscripted drummer Karlis Hawkins. Don't get me wrong; based on this self-titled release, Return for Refund's sound is clean and there is nothing necessarily wrong with the song composition or other technical aspects. The main issue comes down to musicianship and emotion. What's lacking on most of the songs is any kind of emotional connection from the band to their own music, and that comes through for listeners. It's really really really not anything like the forbears the band names as their influences, and the main reason is that lack of spark and emotive quality.

Frontman and rhythm guitarist Drew Clementino certainly seems to have a reasonable musical pedigree and a legitimate love of music when you hear him talk about it. While he says he idolizes bands like Nirvana, The Offspring and Black Sabbath, he also wanted the sound he produced in his work to be his own. The one thing I think he got right is that his vocals sound a bit like Dexter Holland from The Offspring in some places on the album, but in others we're looking more at the likes of Scott Stapp of Creed or Chad Kroeger of Nickleback. Not necessarily awful if you're going for pop rock, but I don't think that was Clementino's aim and I definitely don't want to listen to that kind of pabulum.

Lead guitarist Sasha Molotkow fancies himself a metal guitar player. Now I know I'm talking to a largely Swedish audience here, so I have to tell our readers the truth: this is in no way metal. By that I don't even mean that Solotkow's playing could be construed as metal but not up to the standards of Swedish or Norwegian players; I mean it's just not metal at all, so if you see this band advertised somewhere as metal, turn and run. Save yourself the anger. What we are instead looking at here is 80s or 90s hard rock with a little bit of shredding here and there. Again, his guitar work isn't bad; it's clean with clear tones, but just not what any educated music fan would perceive as "metal."

Drummer Karlis Hawkins is probably the most skilled musician in the band, and I really have no complaints about him. He has an interesting funk edge to most of his playing and he does his best to keep the rest of the band on track. He most likely writes his own rhythm tracks, and thank goodness he does because I'm not sure the band would have made it this far without him. In spite of their many issues, Return for Refund has already gained some recognition on the Canadian college rock charts. There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.

As I keep saying, the EP Return for Refund Released doesn't have anything necessarily wrong with it. The EP opens with 'The Fields,' a perfectly acceptable song for pop rock. 'TV Light' has some interesting politically-charged lyrics but not much going for it musically. 'Between My Sheets' comes as close as I think the band are capable of to Molotkow's weird idea of metal. 'YOLO' is the best song on the album as it is actually and definitively a punk song both in music and lyrics. It takes an ironic jab at pop culture, which again shows that there is some kind of disconnect between feeling and execution on this album. 'Some is Better than None' has a very poorly-executed rhythm guitar riff that just kind of spoils any potential it had. The album closes with a totally random song called 'Those Bombs,' which is not rock or punk or grunge or metal anything the band profess to hold dear musically. It's an odd country and blues mashup that is not only more pedestrian work from Return for Refund, but it just doesn't fit on this album at all.

So I'm really not sure, at the end of the day, whether Return for Refund's problem is a lack of passion or just literally not having the same definition of musical genres as most of us do. If I was told when I got this band's album and bio that they were hard rock with an inclination toward pop and country, I'm not sure I would be quite so confused or annoyed with them. Return for Refund are a perfectly acceptable pop rock band and if that's what they're going for, they got it dead-on. Please let them join the ranks of other pop rockers masking as hard rock like Nickleback and Creed because that's where they belong. If they're going for something a little more alternative, they have a long way to go and I'm not sure you can teach someone how to have musical integrity or passion. I know this a first pass, so maybe once they work together some more on defining their sound, Return for Refund will be able to relax a little bit and gain some of the passion and musicianship that's lacking here in the future. Mar 21 2015

Off label

Official relesae released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Layla Marino

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

Share this review

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
0
Shares

Buy this release

Bandcamp

Related articles

Warsickle - 'Call For Help'

Review, Apr 11 2013

Sonik Foundry - 'Explosive'

Review, May 30 2012

Shortly about us

Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

© Brutal Resonance 2009-2016
Designed by and developed by Head of Mímir 2016