The Hidden Agendas: “Ragtime Gangsters” – pure alternative rock at its best

Thrilling audiences with their high energy, humorous, hard rock performances throughout Pennsylvania and New York and with roots dating back to the mid-1990s, The Hidden Agendas are made up of Ron Fleeger (vocals/guitar), Matthew Zarzyczny (bass/vocals), Scott Gibbs (drums) and Sarah Gibbs (keyboards/vocals).

the-hidden-agendas-350What can be said about The Hidden Agendas, except that they are the quintessential alternative-rock band. Energetic compositions, disturbing lyrics, a thrashing guitar, and powerful hooks make them a captivating band. If you’re naming your price and buying their debut EP, “Ragtime Gangsters”, you’re probably already obsessed, like the rest of us.

The Hidden Agendas can be harsh with “The Devil’s Hymn”, they can be raw and melodic on “The Mad Captain”, they can be punkish with “Dopelgangin’”and add Ska-based influences on “The Texan”, or they simply slow it right down with an eclectic arrangement and superb vocals on “Alien”.

the-hidden-agendas-400This EP is stripped down to raw and hard-hitting instrumentation, without all the studio perfection that makes music more commercially viable. Yet the songs still shine like polished jewels. Thanks to Ron Fleeger’s surreal guitar and unique vocal style and pitch; Sarah Gibbs’ keyboard and soft backing vocals, providing a perfect counterpoint to Fleeger’s lead; Matthew Zarzyczny’s rolling bass and Scott Gibbs’ steady beat and drum fills.

This is pure alternative rock at its best as the songs alternate between the loud and thrashing and the slower and the melodic, all sewn together with excellent rock sensibilities and just a little catchiness vaguely thrown in here and there. With 5 songs on the EP, there is not enough space for tailing off, so the music is consistently fiery and intense, from start to finish. The guitar parts, the melodies, the playing, the vocals and the arrangements all contain what sounds like spontaneous energy, which helps deliver a greater assurance and power in the band’s overall sound.

I read somewhere in their bio notes, that the band are not particularly fond of “Ragtime Gangsters”, because it does not contain their newer, and what they consider their better material. Now I’ really curious to hear the next release!

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Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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