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The best kept secret in music


"Unsigned Bands, Demos, Promos"

Washington, DC has been a home to a great many legendary rock bands that span the gamut of what’s consider rock. Barakus hopes one day to add their name to that growing list of influential bands. Their songs are tightly written and their vocalist sounds like Ed Kowalczyk from alternative rock band Live. Formed from classified ads in the Washington City Paper, Barakus has plenty of attitude to go around. Check ‘em out and support local music. -

"Grab Bag"

Barakus is another strong rock outfit from Washington, DC. With a name that brings to mind B. A. Baracus, the character Mr. T played on the “A-Team,” you would expect a heavy and powerful sound, but the band proves to be multi-faceted on its new self-titled EP.

The seven songs on this collection show the dynamic range and control the band possesses. On one song they can be aggressive and in-your-face, but they never overpower the listener and know just when to pull it back. While songs like “Love and Money” and the Pearl Jam-esque “London Said” show that the band definitely knows how to rock, others like “Outside Looking In” and “Ticket to My Soul” show a softer side of the band. While listening to the album, I also noted a bit of an 80’s influence that reflects some of the rock acts from the decade like the Church. Barakus is a nice rock EP from start to finish.
- Music Monthly - August 2005 Vol. 22, No. 8, Issue #251

"Three Stars: Barakus at DC9"

Barakus, a four piece brought together by an ad in the City Paper in 2002, took the stage and started in with their set. Barakus isn’t punk or indie or blues or folk rock. The foremost thought going through this DCist’s mind was, "This feels like 1994." Yes, the 90s. Much like VH1, we love the 90s. Barakus, clearly, also loves the 90s. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Loud, layered and practiced instrumentals, and big, soulful – if at some points overly dramatic – vocals were prevalent in each of their songs. Lead singer Code wore his sunglasses, only removing them to make eye contact with the bartender for a new pitcher.

Even when they seemed a little too aware of themselves, Barakus’ music kept the collective heads bobbing and toes tapping. The drummer, Patrick Galante, is the standout musician in the bunch, Berklee-trained and the lynchpin that brings them together. Code reeled in the audience’s attention with some lead singer swagger. Guitarist Matthew Manos’ kinetic relationship to the music they play gave him a Vedder-esque stage presence. All in all, it was a good show by a solid band that would be selling like hot cakes if flannel were back in style. Which anyone who’s walked by the window at Urban Outfitters can tell you is coming. - Amanda Mattos - DCist -

"CD Reviews"

The likeability factor is high for Barakus. Their vocals have a dramatic quality about them that will surely draw comparisons to The Doors. That's not to say that this is all beatific sweetness, however. There's also a gutsy element underlying these aural proceedings. They're an American band, but you'd swear these folks had some British in 'em, too. These ears hear a touch of Echo & the Bunnymen, for instance, and hints of precious outfits like Suede. These seven songs range from the social commentary expressed through "Love and Money" to the inner-looking "Ticket to My Soul". When they lead the charge with "Rise Up with Me" here, it's hard not to get off your duff and follow right after them. Barakus just has an intangible charisma. - Dan MacIntosh - Skratch Magazine

"Local Music Coverage"

Remember when rock n roll was rock n roll? Well… I don’t. Hailing from the nation’s capital is Barakus, a band who plays rock because it’s rock. Barakus isn’t terribly interested in which scene it belongs to. Instead, the band appears to be a bunch of fairly regular guys playing good music.

The founding members of Barakus met each other in 2002 by way of newspaper ads. Singer/guitarist Matt Code and guitarist Matthew Manos discovered that their writing styles meshed well, then set about looking for a rhythm section. This they found in the talents of Berklee trained drummer Michael Patrick Galante and bassist Rick Cardarelli. (The bass on their 2005 self-titled EP came courtesy of Brian “Thumbs” Keating, another Washington DC area musician.) Singer Code has described the band’s formation as challenging, but where would the passion spring from if the road to success was smooth?

And Barakus certainly has plenty of passion. The seven songs from their 2005 EP have a bold, organic sound, sometimes reminiscent of classic rock from the 60s. The guitarists aren’t afraid of a good ballsy riff, nor are they afraid of mixing in some acoustic rhythm. In songs like “London Said” and “ Western Style Town ”, the lead guitar expresses as much as the vocals. But don’t let that diminish the vocals. Matt Code’s voice is a gem in the rock world. His low, gravely wail is the perfect complement to Barakus’ bluesy arrangements. The EP shows a great amount of ability and originality, without any frills. Everything you hear can and will be produced before your eyes in a live show!

If you visit Barakus’ website ( you will find that they have spread their music shamelessly across the Internet. It is a beautiful thing. More than 10 outside websites host Barakus songs. Their website itself hosts downloadable mp3s of several live tracks. To me, this clearly states that Barakus care deeply about their music, and about making it available for the enjoyment of the masses. This exemplifies the values that Northeast In-Tune stands on, and quite frankly, is awesome.

On the new EP, Barakus transition from the exuberant radio rock of “Love and Money” to the dark groove of “Rise Up With Me” to the spacey love song “Ticket to My Soul”. Most of the songs seem to be about relationships and power (although it’s a bit fuzzy sometimes) but it’s not really the lyrical content that matters. The essence of Barakus’ songs come from their own power and the emotions they express melodically. In “ Western Style Town ”, a twangy acoustic guitar line invokes images of the dusty West. Code hovers on the very edge of screaming “You’re just a dog from hell.” One of my favorites, “Ticket to My Soul,” reminds me a bit of “Stellar” by Incubus. It has that soaring, celestial feel brought on by Eastern-inspired guitar lines and a little extra reverb.

Barakus is a pleasure to listen to, and almost certainly a joy to see live. They craft and perform their songs beautifully already, and are sure to wow us with each new step they take. Check them out at their website ( or purchase their 7 song EP here: - Stephanie Crosby
- Northeast In-Tune

"Big Yawn"

One has to give Barakus credit where credit is due. Although the band took nearly 2 years to form, in little over a year and a half, the band has slammed both the DC metro area AND New York City with show after show, proving to be one of the hardest-working bands in the DC area. It is very clear from their promotional efforts that these guys want it bad, but now that they have finally released their debut 7 song EP, we can finally get a glimpse as to whether or not they have the music to back it up.

In my opinion, they do.

Now, anyone who has read my reviews knows that I can be unusually harsh toward bands that don't write hooky songs and I would be lying if I said that Barakus was a rainmaker in terms of pop hits. But I know originality when I hear it and I can honestly say that Barakus has truly done something that I have never heard before, regardless of whether their style falls under my expertise or not (and it doesn't).

Picture this:

Close-up on the band. Blue jeans, black boots, leather jackets, black sunglasses, 90s Seattle hair, perfectly timed 5 o'clock shadows that blur the line between rock star and metrosexual. The first chord strikes. A distorted rhythm guitar wails under a heavily effected lead. Pan out. Wait a minute! This band is playing Wolf Trap? The crowd is filled with neo-hippies in Coed Naked Lacrosse shirts, dancing the pot sway, seemingly lost in the music, just as they would if they were at a Pink Floyd concert.

This doesn't make any sense, right?

But I could totally see this being the case in a few years. What Barakus has managed to do is take the sound and look of Top 40 alternative rock bands like Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd and throw a 70s rock/jam band spin to it, which comes out sounding like 3 Doors Down meets the Doors ("door" motif not intended). This is only augmented by singer Matt Code's Jim Morrison-esque singing voice and Layne Staley-esque wailing voice.

As I listened to the EP, I found myself drifting off -- something I'm not normally apt to do when listening to a record. Usually, I am either enthralled or completely turned off. In this case, I kind of just lost track of time. Although I wasn't captured by a particular track, the music on whole did grab my attention and gave me a little bit of insight as to why people listen to jam/hippie type music in the first place. I would imagine I'd be on one hell of a ride right about now if I had put a tab of LSD in my rectum and ran it on repeat. And that says a lot, as I've never gotten into that "zone" listening to Phish or the Allman Brothers or the Grateful Dead before. Like I said, Barakus doesn't write sing along pop songs. But given the popularity of both jam bands and radio-friendly alt rock bands, I could totally see this band blowing up with the right single. I do not think that single is on this EP, however.

The musicianship and production on the EP are grade A. While the songs tend to blur together at times due to the fact that half of them begin with the same acoustic guitar strumming, it's a good listen and better than the majority of stuff released by DC local bands. That said, I'm not so sure DC is the best market for these guys. It's a good thing they're hitting up NYC regularly. I give this record a 7.1 rating moreso due to the originality factor than the song factor. They've got the sound down to a T. Now they just need a killer single or two.

It doesn't appear from their website that the EP is available on ITunes, although it is available through CDBaby, so it's probably en route. I don't have a particular ITunes recommendation. It's 7 songs. Buy it from these guys and support local music or at least check them out live. -

"CD Reviews"

Though a little over-dramatic for my taste, Barakus is a well developed nod-rock band with passionate, drawn-out songs, and a strong, equally passionate lead vocal. Slightly dark-aired production gives the whole disc a sort of adult contemporary feel that it never really escapes, but ultimately a well-crafted album. – Kevin Keating - Origivation Magazine

"CD Reviews"

Barakus has the flavor of The Doors—similar lyrical styling and very similar vocalist. For the reader who is tired of conventional “pop” rock, and who craves the rock of the sixties and early seventies with its emphasis on enigmatic lyrics and strong musicianship, this is a must-have CD. I was going to say that this CD is definitely radio ready, but, unfortunately, I think there’s a dire lack of radio stations ready to play anything that strays so far from today’s standard equation for success.

Production 4.0
Lyrics 3.5
Music 4.0
Vocals 4.0
Musicianship 4.0
- Unsigned Music Magazine


Self-titled EP - 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


Barakus is a rock band from Washington, DC, with a sound as real as it is dramatic. Sexy and sensual, with an exciting blend of grit and attitude, the band brings a level of intensity that really resonates with its fans. Songs like “Ticket to My Soul” expose the band’s versatility and dynamic range, which contrasts beautifully to the energized “Love and Money” and the vibrant “Rise Up With Me”. “These songs are basically an extension of our souls,” says Code, the band’s singer and rhythm guitarist. “There is a real passion to each song, and I think it goes over well with the people who listen to it.”

The product of the classified ads in the Washington City Paper, the band has been crafting its sound since the summer of 2002. “Our writing styles really complement each other nicely,” explains lead guitarist Matthew Manos. “I’ll play something and in no time he’ll complete the song. Or he’ll play something and I’ll complete the song. It’s all very…effortless.”

But the rise of Barakus has been anything but effortless, as the band has endured many of the tribulations typical of a growing band and a number of obstacles that could not have been foreseen. “Let’s just say that the stories continue to grow. Minus the drug addictions, we’re building one hell of a ‘Behind the Music’ special!” explains Code with a coy smile.

Despite various set backs, the band pushed forward and caught a break in the summer of 2004. After numerous false starts and fruitless auditions, the band met drummer Michael Patrick Galante, a Berklee protégé with a deft ability to balance power and finesse. Returning to the DC area after a lengthy stint in Dallas, TX, Galante did not initially intend to get back into the music scene. “I’ve been playing in bands most of my life,” he explains. “From time to time you get worn down. But I couldn’t stay away for long, and soon enough I was back testing the waters.”

Behind the strength of Galante’s drumming, the band reemerged on the scene as a three-piece while continuing to audition bassists. “We are extremely goal oriented and determined to continue forward in one way or another,” says Code. “Playing without a bassist is not ideal, but it beats the hell out of not playing at all.”

“If anything, the times we gigged without a bassist helped the three of us become tighter,” adds Galante. “Without the low end, there is no room for mistakes.”

For the remainder of 2004 and the beginning of 2005, Barakus shared the stage with a number of different bassists, each with their unique playing style and career objectives. The band returned to the studio as well to work on its first EP (Barakus EP – 2005), and solicited the assistance of bassist Brian “Thumbs” Keating, who currently plays with local standout Shane Hines and the Trance.

“We worked with Thumbs to get the most appropriate bass line for each song,” explains Manos. “He presented some ideas and we worked from there. He definitely understood what we were trying to achieve, which made the whole process that much easier. Plus, he’s a phenomenal talent.”

With the EP complete, the band was poised to hit on all cylinders. Then the band met bassist Rick Cardarelli, whose flaunts a deep and powerful playing style that really accentuates the Barakus sound. “Rick has a very good ear and a great understand of the pocket,” says Code. “We have no rules to our songwriting, which forces each of us to rely on our ears and our intuition.”

Barakus is now moving ahead as a complete unit for the first time in its existence, and is aggressively promoting its EP at its shows and online. Currently, the band has surpassed 100,000 plays on Number One Music and has all seven songs on its EP sitting in the top 20 all-time list ( Moreover, since June 2005, the band continues to place higher than national acts like Taking Back Sunday, Ambulance LTD, Sevendust and Lil’ Jon.

Additionally, Barakus’ song “Rise Up With Me” will be included in the documentary Popaganda: The Art and Crimes of Ron English, which is set for release in September 2005 in New York City. Written and directed by Pedro Carvajal, the soundtrack will also feature songs from the Dandy Warhols, Daniel Johnston and Tripping Daisy.

Citing a truly wide range of influences, ranging from U2 and the Beatles to Alice in Chains and Carcass, the band’s sound is definitely its own. Unique yet still palpable, innovative yet not over-the-top, there is something new to discover with each listen. Be it the sheer power of the vocals, the percussive strumming of the rhythm guitar, the soulful wails of the lead guitar, or the dynamic grooves of the bass and drums…audiences will not have a hard time finding something to enjoy.