Review: Instant Shawarma 5 song CD Just Add Water

“Waves” opens up this intriguing five song E.P. from Cambridge based foursome Instant Shawarma and it is superb, one of my favorite songs to come out of the local scene in a long time. Ethereal guitar from Andy Constantine envelopes Pat O’Donnell’s voice as the band crafts something as mesmerizing and inspiring as Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac’s 1970’s epic “Albatross.”   Keyboards drift in while drummer Josh Ziemann and bassist Matt Montrose provide the lilting undercurrent.  Just marvelous and as attention-getting as “I’m Your Captain” was to the third Grand Funk Railroad album.  These titles, like fellow Boston area group Stains of a Sunflower, are not your three minute concise pop tunes. Waves is the second shortest at 5:51 while “Lizard Coffee” oozes in at 4:49, the shortest track on the disc, and one of the group’s more popular in concert.  Picture the original Doors jamming with the original Savoy Brown – slinky guitar riffs from O’Donnel and Constantine that Creedence Clearwater would have had a blast with extending a composition onstage. The Deep Purple-styled Jon Lord organ is a surprise and adds depth to the production.

“Coming Up Roses” veers harder into blues, O’Donnell’s gravel voice in command as the chorus hits hard after the opening lyric’s essay.  Instant Shawarma would be perfect on a bill with Blue Manic and the on-hiatus Apollo Blue, both ensembles covering a similar territory, though where George Conduris of Apollo Blue dips into the Hendrix/Clapton bag, and Mike Tate of Blue Manic rocks even harder, Instant Shawarma have their cosmic / esoteric guitar lines that tends to make it more psychedelic blues. The five minute and forty-two second “French Conniption” a case in point.  It’s that unique style behind the songs that add intrigue. And as with Stains of a Sunflower, the closer here is epic too with “The Fold” having a dangling guitar to open (as well as end) the festivities. The interplay is wonderful three minutes in and builds to a nice climax with in-the-groove intensity that’s hard to describe.

These guys have come up with a great little recording, but it seems that they don’t want to be famous. None of their names appear in the package that’s got beautiful artistry on the wrap-around cover thanks to Nate Haduch.  The inside photo of the group against a graffiti wall is charming but…again, their names are missing in action.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.