Joe Mandica, Grace Marino, Marty Penrose + others – The Initiative (2013)

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Based out of Australia, this extremely talented group of individuals includes Joe Mandica, Grace Marino, Fortunato Isgro, Nino Bisignano, Marty Penrose, Taylor Penrose, Natalie Wilksch and Zachary Wilksch.

A victorious debut album, The Initiative collection surges forth and pushes ahead with layer upon layer of world class composition, performance and production values, creating a climate rich with warmth, expression and flexibility.

Sounding like an engaging blend of Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Orbison, Mandica and Penrose’s “Then The Light Came On” shivers and shimmers with melodic magnitude, Marino’s sultry “Survive” spawns images of empty wine glasses and overflowing ashtrays, the pound-for-pound impassioned Bisignano’s “Anymore” sits squarely in the jazzy crooner booth ala Frank Sinatra, and the heart-tugging Isgro’s “Keep Thinking Of You” blinks and winks with bright and shiny pure pop elements.

Lending an added attraction to The Initiative is Peter Rechter (whose great recordings with Tol-Puddle Martyrs and the Secrets truly require no introduction), as the legendary singer, songwriter and keyboardist co-authored four tunes on the disc. Among Peter’s excellent contributions to The Initiative are the power popping punch of “Every Little Thing” that recalls a fantasy collaboration between Buddy Holly and Bobby Fuller, the funky “Gettin’ It Together,” the emotionally-charged balladry of “It’s True” and “You Like Me,” a jittery little ditty dressed in Kinks styled vaudeville wear.

Then there’s the cracking pop rock of the Wilksch’s “Can’t Get Your Face Off My Mind,” the smart and polished soul samplings of Penrose’s “Gives Me Everything,” that could surely be pegged as a long lost Supremes track, and the spirited sensations of Mandica’s “Like You Do,” which proposes a gospel pitch.

Roped and tied with compact and coherent vocals, augmented by jumbles of juicy hooks and columns of chiming choruses, The Initiative models itself on the detailed and sophisticated pop rock mentality exercised by heroic bands such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Raspberries and “Fleetwood Mac” and “Rumours” era Fleetwood Mac. Enterprising instrumentation, involving horns, tooting harmonicas and lots of cool and tasty piano work unite in perfect harmony with the plucky rhythm section.

The Initiative took the initiative to make a remarkable album, which I hereby declare record of the year!

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at
Beverly Paterson
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  • Natalie

    Oh my goodness! We were so excited and privileged to be apart of this album! I can’t get the songs out of my head!

    I am certainly one very proud daughter !!


  • Congratulations on a remarkable achievement Joe and team.
    As an amateur Muso on the outside looking in, what you have achieved is what most hope they can do sometime in their lives but never get there.
    Favorite track is “Keep thinking of you”
    My best wishes to you and every success for the album.

    Stamy Criticos

  • Joe Mandica

    Dear Beverly
    Sending you a Huge Thank you on behalf of all the members of The Initiative for the very generous review you gave our Album – Lets hope that we have many others who also share your opinions and thoughts in regards to this record – Joe Mandica