SH Music; 2011
Though this is ViliFi’s debut album, the band are no strangers to the local music scene. The Merritt Island trio, comprised of Shain Honkonen (guitars/vocals), Chad Berney (bass), and Jake Hogeland (drums), were known and loved, until recently, as oNe, an outfit than can be said to have improved through this new, more focused incarnation.
With the 13-track Common Eyes, ViliFi make their intentions clear at the outset with blistering opener “Sympathy,” a showcase of each member’s impressive musical skills. The rest of the album continues apace, with songs like the woozy “Abide” and the funk-inflected “Price I Have To Pay” woven around frenetic rhythms, furious guitar shredding, precise bass lines, and Honkonen’s warm vocals. Few bands sound as cohesive as this, and the entirety of Common Eyes has a palpably live feel.
Hard rock influences abound on chugging tracks like “Anguish” and “I’m Alive,” but ViliFi really shine on the more balladic offerings like “Gone Away” and closer “Take Me Away.” All the songs here are Honkonen-penned originals and are, as evidenced in the excellent, downtempo “Hanging On Tonight,” distillations of a variety of influences, including prog-rock, jazz, and even classical structures. One of the album’s best tracks, “Hanging On Tonight,” is a song full of color and restraint, and sounds all the more incredible when compared to the urgent intensity of much of the remainder of the album. Other highlights include Honkonen’s fluid guitar playing and finely-crafted lyrics, and Berney and Hogeland’s solid rhythm section, which is by turns anchored and wildly impulsive.
Melodic, funky, hard-rocking, and refreshingly unique, Common Eyes also suggests that ViliFi have a few more classic albums in them. Based on these tunes, the band should be around for a long, long time — perhaps in another incarnation, but in spirit at least, still the rocking same. — P. Thorpe
Common Eyes is available through iTunes, CDBaby.com, and Digstation.com. Visit the band’s website at: www.vilifi.net. ViliFi will be performing a number of times throughout the month — 4/1, 4/6, 4/13, 4/20, 4/27, and 4/29 at the Cocoa Beach Pier; 4/15 and 4/19 at the 321 Local (333 King St., Cocoa; 458-4509); and 4/8 at Off The Traxx (918 E. New Haven Ave, Melbourne; 327-2919).