The Long Island music scene has always been comprised of outcasts and afterthoughts making awesome music. Growing up in Long Island, I have always related to the ragtag identity of the local music scene ever since my first show when I was twelve. Over the past decade following the scene, I have followed a good amount of bands that associate with the misfit outlook of the island, but none are quite as unique as Table Talk. Comprised of Ryan O’Rourke (Guitar and Vocals), Sal Salamone (Guitar and Vocals), Rob Rizzacasa (Bass and Backing Vocals), and Jon Argondizza (Drums), Table Talk has spent the past few years touring and cultivating a fan base around the northeast after the release of their 2016 self-titled album. Although they don’t look all that put together, their new EP, No Road Leads There, proves that they are more thought out than you would think.
Few bands can pull off what Table Talk does vocally. Bands from every genre have tried to mix the vocals of two separate singers into one unified sound. Some of them have succeeded, (OutKast, Alice in Chains, Modern Baseball, etc.) and others have struggled in finding a singular sound with two singers before opting for a stronger sound with one lead singer (Jimmy Eat World, Goo Goo Dolls, etc.). Table Talk has been able to create a unique and signature sound that is spearheaded by the voices of both Ryan O’Rourke and Sal Salamone. O’Rourke and Salamone each have their own specific tone on the songs they sing, but neither of them causes the music to adapt to their voices. In terms of harmonies, the duo compliments each other well and power the other into hooks that reel the listener in and sink them into their emotions.
Similar to a lot of other punk bands, the key point of the release is the guitar work by Salamone and O’Rourke. The guitar work is complex, but not self-indulgent. The duo are experts at knowing when to step up and shred, and when to step back and blend into the background. That background is upheld by the relaxed and encompassing drum work of Jon Argondizza and the punchy grooves of Rob Rizzacasa. Unlike other emo or punk acts, the rhythm section does not hide or settle for a subtle acknowledgment from time to time. Instead, Jon and Rob are just as prominent in the mix as Sal and Ryan. This is something that helps separate Table Talk in the sonic landscape. Their faith in the work behind the kit and axe gives the band a more rich and full sound. This confidence in the backend allows for Sal and Ryan to go to work tearing up their guitars or tearing the listener’s hearts out with their words.
The production on the album is not only professional but fitting to the sound of Table Talk. When a band starts recording their music, their first few releases tend to have poor production quality. This can be due to lack of funding or due to the fact that the band is still trying to hone in on their brand. This release does none of that. Over their previous two professional releases, Table Talk has brought a signature sound that is thought out, familiar and yet, still innovative. The production is similar to other great emo albums, like Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American or Fireworks’ Gospel, in the sense that the album makes sure the music works in tandem with the lyrics and not against them. The overdriven guitars and thundering drums do not cover up the intelligent bass work of Rizzacasa or the meaningful lyrics of Ryan and Sal, but instead, provide the fire behind the tender meanings of each song.
“The Twenty in Your Pocket”, “Fearless”, and “Speak”
If I have one complaint about the release it is that I want more material. Being an EP it is short, sweet and to the point, but it does leave the listener wanting more from Table Talk. Thankfully, the band has their 2016 self-titled release and a collection of old singles to keep new listeners happy, while they are still working on new material. Overall, Table Talk comes to their namesake with a fresh perspective, a distinct twist on an old sound, and a lot of fire behind each and every line. As a writer on music, I am really impressed by the release. As a fan of the scene, I am so excited for these guys to get some recognition for some truly killer songs.
– Peter McDermott