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Hofstra talent, Vanags, plays promising piano rock

By Bryan Menegus, Staff Writer

Do you like the intimate lyrical style of the Saddle Creek bands, but you're sick of electric guitars hogging all the fun? Are you sick of singers who are only good with autotune, and you'd rather support local music anyway? Jacob Vanags is for you!

A Hofstra local, Jacob plays a Ben Folds type of piano rock, mixed with some upbeat pop and the occasional sprinkling of bar-band stomp. Opener "All That You Have", starts sloppy with atmospheric synth and an overly staccato Pinback-toned bass that crushes the hope for a solid release, but before that thought's even completed, Jacob saves it with piano and his fast-talking vibrato-heavy vocals. His sense of melody is undeniable, and although Vanags doesn't challenge any ears, he doesn't need to in order to make satisfying music.

The six song EP ‘Pulses are Pluses' plods along with more-or-less the same vibe as the first track, showcasing the talent of Vanags, and the various collaborators, which include drums, horns, and a full choir who share album space with him. Especially for a college student, the production value of the album is staggeringly high.

Every track shimmers, but in an organic, unobtrusive way. However, many of the songs feel too long, and are laden with unnecessary recaps- there's a fine line between letting a song stretch out to breathe and just taking up space, one which frequently gets crossed. Regardless, the EP shows serious promise, and Vanags possesses a voice and a sensibility that might find a greater sense of comfort on a full-length. Vanags frequently performs at and around Hofstra University. His EP, "Pulses are Pluses" can be purchased at

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