O V E R V I E W
It’s been almost four years since alternative / pop rock outfit The Cab announced they were going on hiatus. In that time, lead singer Alex DeLeon has been slowly working on figuring out who he is as a person and what kind of music he wants to craft which led to the creation of his solo moniker, Bohnes. After sporadically releasing music under this name since November 2015, the release of the first part of what Bohnes represents is finally here with 206: Act I; an 8-track release that takes some rather strong risks musically that offers up a different ideology of what a project needs to consist of.
F L O W / L O N G E V I T Y / O R I G I N A L I T Y
Marked as his debut into the foray that is the solo project of a successful band front man, 206: Act I has a lot going on in regards to this particular area. For one, the flow isn’t entirely reminiscent of an album where the songs try to intertwine and retain a level of cohesion from track to track; instead, the approach Bohnes has taken is obviously a reflection of who he is as a person — the exact idea behind the project to begin with. In regards to the album’s longevity is going to take a hit as listeners approach the latter half of the album as “Guns and Roses” is three years old, “Moshpit” is…well something and “Slither” is this weird pop/hip hop mixture that has a beautifully done bridge but misses the mark with the finger-snapping, slightly-rapped chorus. This goes back to the flow being such a key factor in an albums longevity as if it doesn’t flow well, it gives off the appearance of relying more on the pop style of music with hit tracks, instead of letting the release take listeners on a ride. Still, this approach works in the favor of originality as it’s almost impossible to call such a stylized, varied album unoriginal, even if it does contain a modern sound.
V O C A L S / I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N
As with the overall album flow, variety is once against the spice of life throughout the whole of 206: Act I in regards to both the vocals and instrumentation. Alex rose to prominence in part thanks to his crooning voice and impeccable vocal range and deservedly so, that takes center stage on 206: Act I. The first sample of Bohnes ability to offer differing vocal approaches comes with the opener, “12 Rounds”, which is a track that ranges from dark pop to hip hop beats and needs a specific vocal style. Instead of what many may expect with swaying verses and swooning choruses, the approach taken is a more subtle, raspy and raw offering that fits to the music. “Six Feet Under” and even “Zombie Love” hit listeners with the smooth, pop vocal abilities Alexander became known for whereas “Guns and Roses” and the closer “Better Than Me” showcase the top of his range.
On the instrumentation front, 206: Act I begins with an eerie, yet subtle organ before bursting with life through kickdrums, a searing guitar riff and blistering 808’s on “12 Rounds” before completely changing it up on the bombastic and sultry pop-driven “Six Feet Under”. “My Friends” has a more rock driven sound to it as fills, crashing cymbals and the ever so subtle electric guitar riff drives the core beat through the end of the song. “Guns and Roses”, while not inherently an EDM song, has a lot of the trappings that the style offers up with budding, danceable underlying rhythm and a flipped on your head drop. These are simply some of the styles offered up by Bohnes throughout the whole album, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this varied approach, it doesn’t always work as well as one would hope.
C O M P O S I T I O N / P R O D U C T I O N
Once again, variation is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to 206: Act I and that doesn’t change when we talk about the albums composition and production. In fact, these are two of the real key pillars behind the sounds that are prevalent throughout Bohnes’ debut. The songs themselves are varied as the inspiration behind each track comes from different places and times musically and emotionally. Take for example the obvious influence sonically of the likes of Justin Timberlake to Frank Sinatra with some Rage Against the Machine thrown in there on the likes of “Moshpit”. The flipside of that is the spattering of different collaborators who have worked with a multitude of different genres and artists, helping round out the overall sound. These well-established artists and collaborators are added to the core of years of travelling that have created connections and experiences that make up the themes behind every song. Its real life put into music and for that, Bohnes needs to absolutely be commended.
F I N A L T H O U G H T S
When it comes to 206: Act I, there’s really two absolutes it left us with. The first one is that this takes the core concept of other genres thematically, such as real-life experiences and day to day connections, and blends it with the modern-day trends of mainstream music. This is accomplished brilliantly and truly is the way that more and more pop music and other mainstream styles seem to be heading towards, so in a way, it’s slightly ahead of its’ time, but the ever-changing approach may throw some off. The second absolute is where the album falls shortest, in that it feels like Bohnes wanted to release something that was more of an album while the end result leaves a feeling of discontent. It’s rather apparent that there is an extremely strong EP here and then additional tracks were added for longevities sake. Even if that is the case, the truth of the matter is that the core of what Bohnes has crafted, not just stylistically but also sonically, is undeniably appealing and makes the wait for what is presumably Act II even more intriguing.