Hailing from Vilnius, Lithuania, Robertas Semeniukas has been playing with many bands honing his craft. In November of last year, the rocker finally presented us his solo album titled Backstage Stories, which transports us to the late 80s and early 90s era of rock’n’roll. The opener “Kai nieko nebelieka” (“When Nothing Is Left”) kicks off with swooshing electronic guitars that delivers a kick into our system. In “Nesustock” (“Don’t Stop”), Robertas showcases a more bluesy side of rock with its midtempo soundscape.
There are instances where Robertas lets the instruments just speak the joy of pure explosion of riffs. Those moments are found in tracks with English titles. The first such we encounter is “Flying High (S.V.J.S.)” where the airy strings accompanied with the bursting drum yield the feeling of being afloat. In “Gitarų šėlsmas” (“Guitar Spree”) and “Per bangas” (“Through The Waves”), Robertas displays his dexterity to build a swirling fluidity out of strings. But Backstage Stories is not just about rock, Robertas also ventures out to folk territories in track such as “Kai tu sugrįši į namus” (“When You Get Home”) and “Journey Home.” He even goes as far into bluesy pop in “Būna tau” (“It Happens To You”), a track filled with an undeniable sense of lonely introspection.
The funkiest part of the record is “Killer Boogie From China” ft. Mr. Belkin. There’s a suspenseful sense of thrill to it that feels like a soundtrack of an action film. The same sense of upbeat cinematic energy is present in “Stormy Day.” The following anthem, “You Gotta Move” ft. Mr. Belkin, takes on a more Spaghetti Western trajectory where Robertas settles for minimal use of melody. There’s a nomadic feel to the lyrics of the track, “You got to move / But when the Lord gets ready / You got to move,” reminding us of the inevitable mobility of life we’ve inherited from past generations.
In “Eat My Dust” ft. Mr Jumbo, Robertas picks up the upbeat tone of rock again through explosive beats anchored by booming basslines. He keeps building that thrill further in “Negerki, broleli” (“Don’t Drink, Brother”) and “Icebreaker Comes to Town.” But the songs that follow afterwards are more laidback and have bluesy elements to it. In “Asian Sky” while Robertas still keeps the cathartic tone ongoing, there is a more chilled-out atmosphere that hovers around. In “See Jam,” he settles us into chill indie rock sphere.
The penultimate songs “Song 4 Editoo,” “Dream Song,” and “Šilo kopa” (“Shilo Dune”) provide us chord-powered meditative melodies to organize our thoughts before Robertas wraps everything up with “Nebilia lankoj” (“No Bullshit Visiting”), a suspense-filled anthem that leaves Backstage Stories with an enigmatic dark tone. Robertas’ record is the byproduct of a seasoned veteran musician who has played across international festivals with a wide array of genres that go beyond the normal rock’n’roll.
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