NOREiKA is Peter Noreika, a singer/songwriter from rural western New York state, near Buffalo. He started out his music career as a guitarist for a few heavy metal bands, but eventually quit the business to become gainfully employed, get married and start a family. As is often the case, however, Noreika never lost the music bug, and after his young son one day asked him why he couldn’t stay home and play with him, he decided to make a change and get back to doing what he loved, which was writing songs and playing music. And though he still had a fondness for metal rock, his sensibilities now leaned more toward acoustic and folk rock.
Noreika released his debut EP METACOUSTiFOLK in 2015, and followed up a year later with Throw the Switch to Begin, which I reviewed almost exactly one year ago – and you can read here. Now he returns with his third EP BoXaRoX, which dropped today, August 25. Departing from the fuller sound of his previous EPs, he strips down the music to the bare essentials of just guitar and vocals. When I asked about the unusual EP title BoXaRoX, Noreika explained that it was a possible band name he’d once considered years ago. When trying to come up with a name for the new EP, he remembered BoXaRoX and decided it was the perfect name for his mascot – a “beer-drinking, guitar-playing pterodactyl” – that he was using for his EP cover art. I think the cover art and title are both perfect!
The first thing that strikes you about Noreika’s music is the fullness of the sound, given that it consists of only an acoustic guitar and his urgent vocals. This is immediately apparent with the opening track “Who’s Right.” He strums his guitar with an assertiveness that matches his powerful vocal delivery of lyrics about finding truth through honest communication:
I’m right, you’re right, Everybody come along
Talk it on over and we’ll find out who is wrong
I’m wrong, you’re wrong, Everybody sing this song
Talk it on over and we’ll find out who is right.
“What Makes You Smile” is a positive, uplifting track about recognizing the little things that can bring joy and make life worth living – like a box of puppies and kittens.
Find your reason to give. You will see its the way to live
There is a brighter side. Keep it up and you’ll hit your stride
Think of things that warm your soul
Puts a smile on your face and makes you whole
Like a box, a box of puppies and kittens.
Noreika makes an emotional plea for love and acceptance on the hard-hitting “Notice Me.” His fervent vocals are pretty intense on this track, as is his guitar playing.
Why don’t you notice me. Am I so hard to see
Why don’t you notice me. I fade to black and disappear
I’ve got so much to say to you. Believe me when I tell you that its all true
Look in my eyes read between my lines. All of my love is for you.
The catchy “Shwoop Dibby Dibby” is a lighthearted ode to a loved one, in which he employs crazy words to describe the depths of his feelings for her:
Love comes round that’s more than real.
When I can’t define, or think of the line, I speak from the heart.
The silly words that I say, mean the world to me in every way
Shwoop dibby dibby whoop baloo, Shmluega Magluega means I love you.
The nimble guitar riff on this track is terrific. In fact, Noreika’s guitar work on every track is outstanding, making his music a real pleasure to hear. So give this EP a listen and see for yourself!