Posted by Chris Noonan on

What makes an object heavy? The first thing that comes to mind is probably size. But the next thing, once some critical thinking is involved, is density. This is an idea from which an infinite number of metaphors, analogies, and dichotomies can spawn. Actually, they have been for all of mankind’s creative history. We have sculpted entire spiritual platforms in light of this discovery, dating back to biblical times. We have revered the tale of the resilience and sheer power of David, defeating the huge physical presence of Goliath, right?  It quite literally translated to us as “Do not let size fool you”. “Do not let a disadvantage dictate your abilities”. “Mind over matter”. Such classic pathos. Without this ideology there might not have been any risk-takers, any pioneers, any heroes. In this sense, we may just be able to argue that science and art, at the least, have a symbiotic relationship.
So let’s just say we were to actually have a music group aptly titled, Object Heavy? A group which thrives on love, meaning and purpose. In the time we’re in now especially, we need to see some soul power like that. Their logo proudly displays a hand holding the planet earth in a sort of protective transparent prism. And that’s what honesty is, transparency. As if to say “we all have the power to affect the world, so why not do so in a positive manner, together, with no hidden agenda?” Further more, the color scheme is diverse, a good mixture of fire and water. However you look at it, it all certainly translates into some powerful symbolism.
Here we have nothing but true musicians, all of whom bring experience and earned confidence to the table. Artistic nomads who meet for an impromptu exhibition in hopes of achieving the same end result. These guys’ performances together are fluent and seamless. Sure they have their planned set list, but live instrumentation among professionals always invites some great improv’. The amazing moment their crowds get to witness is when they are so woven in to the music that they just simply turn into veins of energy. No rehearsal covers exactly what happens once the lights are on and the crowd is there. This is what true musicianship is. You can really tell that music is a part of them, and if by some unforeseen force music was taken away from them, it would be like clipping the wings of birds. Simply put, if this group was never constructed, these guys would be using their craft elsewhere, guaranteed.
Object Heavy was formed in 2015, headed by Brian Swizlo. And by formed we of course mean they got together and immediately banged out a debut album, self-titled. Aside from Swizlo, the official members are Pete Ciotti, Drew Mohr, Johnny Fiya, and Damon Cooper. They form a very cohesive machine indeed.  The musicians without question build a platform to showcase the singing of Damon Cooper and Drew Mohr throughout the album.
The first song is a humble welcome, titled “Just Another Day”, which features a great surprise cameo from DJ Logic. It executes perfectly a sense of relatability; an excellent first impression for a band. Cooper sings, “I’m just an average man. I may not be perfect but I do what I can”. The most imperative thing is that the listener gets emotionally invested right away. The melody the group creates for the chorus is a wonderful mix of smoothness and tension, which helps illustrate the lyrical mix of angst and empowerment.
The Object Heavy family also features some close relatives, from Bill Summers contributing some very subconsciously appreciated percussion throughout the whole album, to Raashan Ahmad and Fred Wesley (of James Brown fame), on the nex “Bad Man”. Here we also learn that the bassist, Drew Mohr, is equally talented vocally, providing very smooth singing. Again, exploring a person’s introspection on a very common level. Music, after all, is a great way of cleansing and releasing pressure, taking accountability for one’s self. This song is definitely a standout, as it boasts a very easy-on-the-ears musical backdrop, very jazzy in nature. Wesley adds a beautiful trombone presence on the deceivingly relaxing melody, given the song’s context. At one point Ahmad and Wesley even have a great question/answer moment towards the end.
Once we are engaged by the spiritual power of the first two songs, we start picking the energy up a few notches with the appropriately titled “Funk With You”. The pace is quicker, and definitely is one that will fill a dance floor. Whereas the first two songs showcase Cooper and Mohr, I think this cut features Swizlo’s prowess on the keys a bit more, including an awesome solo from him, and also just as notably a guitar solo from Johnny Fiya.
At this point we’re really starting to get into the guts of the album. The listener is convinced by now, drawn in, comfortable. A perfect time for a comic relief moment fronted by Swizlo and Cooper with “A Good Old Fashioned”. A beautifully cartoon-ish piano line duplicated perfectly by Cooper’s vocals, a step-by-step on how to get high and and vibe out with Object Heavy, who is proud of their love for the cannabis culture. The music is slouchy, syrupy, overall making for a perfect smoke out interlude.
This passes the torch (pun intended) for the next song, “Get Blasted”, where we meet a couple more Object Heavy affiliates, Sleep of Old Dominionand DJ Zone. Here the album caters to our hip hop needs. Zone starts us off with some very tastefully placed scratching and again around the halfway mark. The rapper Sleep’s wordplay and cadence mystifies us and adds a very vivid dimension to the album. With so many weed songs out there, in 2016 you need to do it cleverly, which is why Sleep was a perfect hire. The light and humorous musical backdrop (a rich and spacey solo from Fiya included) mixed with the vocal narrative helps make an almost fairytale-like style to this one.
So the smoke sesh is complete, and O.H. is now ready to bring us back to the higher energy with “On the Regular”. So much so that all associated vocalists take a step back from the spotlight and just let the musicians get theirs. Delightfully percussive, with a fun momentum. The drumming of Pete Ciotti is the real catalyst of this one. The result is best described as a whirlpool, one powerful motion, and anything caught in it will not escape. Each instrument interacts with and compliments one another for a nearly six and a half minute display of greatness. It is clear now that we are smack dab in the middle of a great and dynamic experience.
With “Icarus” we’re joined again vocally with Drew Mohr, for what would be considered the album’s ballad. Heavily seductive and bassy, we get some great metaphoric words and solo instrumentation, blues-like in nature. We get launched into our own capacity for love, and the inevitable vulnerability to loss. Not just loss of a lover, but loss of who we are because of them as well.
The flow of this album is very natural. It’s evident the song order is well thought out and deliberate, as we head into even more serious ground with “City Life”, which features another cameo from DJ Logic. We believe the utter conviction in Damon Cooper’s voice as he paints us a picture of the hustle and bustle of highly populated areas. The competitiveness, the struggle to stay afloat and the subsequent desensitization of those in it.
“Noodles” delivers us from the weight of the previous song, and we again hear the band come up to the forefront. The rhythm and fluency of this song is extremely engaging, and again the vocalists take a break. The instruments themselves become voices, shouting in unison. The horn-playing in this one is particularly mesmerizing in how it speaks.
And lastly, “Right This Way”. Again featuring vocals from Mohr and an infectious bass line from him as well. This accompanies Ciotti’s awesome drumming accented by outstanding Bill Summers percussion, enthusiastic keys from Swiz, and Johnny Fiya supplies another beautiful guitar solo, with impeccable breakdowns throughout. Just when we think we have seen our share of surprises, Swizlo himself pops in to drop some rhymes. The song no doubt will grab the ladies’ attention. This, right here, is why chicks dig musicians. The charm and mystique of free-spirited and talented people. The fact that the live audience can only share this brief moment in time with these artists draws them in. This is the climax of the album, making sure we leave this experience on a fun note. This is where everyone should be knowing who they’re leaving the venue with. And then the album closes.
Object Heavy’s debut album is an all-around awesome piece of work. Sonically, instrumentally, emotionally and ethnically diverse, with a great current to ride from start to finish. Funk, blues, soul, R&B, and hip hop are evenly distributed and peppered with a wide range of concepts and feelings. The only downside I could think of is that it could be longer. I would loved to have heard a duet with Cooper and Mohr, and maybe include a female vocalist to guest star somewhere. We are left wanting more, so maybe it’s just me being selfish. All in all, an awesome project. Solid. So yes, they indeed live up to their name, Object Heavy.These guys are going to stick around. They have been performing consistently since the album’s release, and have just embarked on a tour. The dates are as follows:

8/11 The Boom Boom Room, San Francisco CA w/ Fred Wesley

8/12 For The Funk Of It, Belden CA w/Fred Wesley

8/13 Hi Fi Lounge, Eugene OR w/ Fred Wesley

8/14 GoodFoot Lounge, Portland OR w/ Fred Wesley

8/15 Nectar Lounge, Seattle WA w/ Fred Wesley and special guest SKERIK

8/16 Rhythm And Rye, Olympia WA w/ Raashan Ahmad

8/19 The Armory, Ashland OR w/ Raashan Ahmad and the Southern Oregon Hip Hop Collective

8/20 The Jambalaya, Arcata CA w/ Raashan Ahmad

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