EP REVIEW: Chavez Cartel – ‘Quarantine Sessions – Live from Studio One16’

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane {The Colourful Writer}

Sometimes music comes into my life that is something like a breath of fresh air. But not this time. This time it was like a breath of high quality whisky from a dirty glass and cigarette smoke filled air. Deep, dark vocals, grunty, grungy, dirty riffs and an overall sound that picked me up and whisked me away to another place. Transported to a dark, damp, dusty, hazy live music venue, with an energy in the air of every band that’s ever played there before and every punter that has stood and watched the bands and artists sweat onto the stage in a fit of passion as they perform. This music is real. From the heart. Sounding like so many other bands and artists I love and have loved over the years, but also having something unique about it. This is ‘Quarantine Sessions – Live from Studio One16’ a live EP from Gold Coast rockers, Chavez Cartel. 

Five rocking tracks, recorded live at Studio One16 in Burleigh with JayFroggie’ Evans and mixed and mastered by Govinda Doyle

The EP opens with Mans Best Friend, which is actually my favourite track from the EP. This track drew me in like a moth to a flame. It starts off with a guitar strummed somewhat delicately but intently and an almost spoken word style vocal. Reminding me of some of my favourite grunge rock acts from the 90’s, this song has layers to it and I love each and every one. Every element seems like a perfect fit, the vocals, the echoing backing vocals, the clean vocal that changes to a gravelly vocal, all sung with a heavy Aussie accent, it’s just delicious. The catchy riffs and steady resounding tones of the drums and bass. I have listened to this song so many times on repeat and it’ll be on my daily playlist for many moons to come. 

Chavez Cartel remind me of some kind of beautiful blend of bands and artists like Nick Cave, The Cruel Sea, Beasts Of Bourbon, PJ Harvey, Shihad, The Tea Party, INXS, The Clash, Nirvana and The Doors. It’s an absolute bloody delight, like a box of mixed chocolates with all your favourite flavours and no shit ones that no one eats. Every mouthful of this band is as tasty as the last and this live EP reflects that perfectly. 

Track two; Dead Weekend. This one is dark, with echoing vocals. I can imagine seeing them play this one live in a big echoing arena somewhere. With the vocals bouncing off the walls and back again. Frontman Ben Simpson’s vocals are impressive; strong, unwavering. Think Jim Morrison meets Michael Hutchence meets Tex Perkins. There’s a sexiness, a confidence, a moodiness that sets the feel of the entire EP. Backed by a talented band who clearly know what they are doing, it’s a recipe for success. The lyrics to this track are a stand out too. I wont share the whole song, but these two verses stood out for me:

I’m feeling…. feelings I used to fear
Believing…. there’s reasons why I’m here
We’re toxic, so we’re told
No better, all we know
With one foot in the hole
I’m praying for control now

To a God who kills on the weekend
To a God who preys on the weak
Leaving man here to lay on his broken dreams
Trying to get some sleep

Killa Killa is up next. The band says of this one: “This is just a punky 1 minute punch. It’s dirty as fuck and about as heavy as we’ll ever go. It’s about addressing the darkness in you and learning to talk to your depression. Learning what it wants with ya’ while you’re on its wave.” And that description sums it up nicely, I can feel that in this track. It’s most definitely dirty and packs quite a punch. Set in the middle of the EP, it’s well placed too. 

Different Underneath kicks off with just a heartbeat of a bass line. Giving it that droning deep and dark sound as a base to build upon. Built upon with the layers that this band so seemingly effortlessly put into place. It also comes with a live performance style music video. A clip that in fact almost entirely reflects my opening paragraph and explanation of the band. And I wrote that before I watched this clip. I think my feelings around this band are rather on point, yeah?


Scum and Fears is the closing track and it gives me a real Nirvana vibe mixed with a punky kind of upbeat flow throughout the track. It’s grungy and kind of melancholy. Full of angst and attitude. Purposely messy in places. It’s definitely got that Kurt Cobain songwriting feel going on.

And thus wraps up this brilliantly dark and dirty EP. Though it only leaves me drooling and licking my lips for more.

If you want a real live experience from Chavez Cartel, get your self to one of their upcoming shows. Details via the bands Facebook event page right HERE.

Listen to the EP HERE

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