Album Review : Debris of Titan's " On the Home Slope"

Prog will never die. It continues to take on many forms. In the 80s it was fantasy laden metal. In the 90s it seemed to either carry angst or was spawned from the displaced children of the Great Dead into hordes of jam bands who played more than they wrote songs. Then the 2000s have seen math-rock mesh with 60s influenced indie rock which are the roots Debris of Titan have grown from. It's interesting to see these kids take on it today as another generation has discovers it by sites like Spotify or searching thrift stores for vinyl. These youngsters from New York give it a slacker sheen of indie rock and garage psychedelics that cause this to it fall closer to what was once called art rock. Many of the early prog bands which came out of the psychedelic scene of the 60s, Pink Floyd being one of the most noted, played art galleries rather than bars since no one was going to drink to something that heady. The first song builds into a din and is a snap shot into wonderment, where their single "Anime" is a more fully realized song that stands on it's own two bell bottoms. There is a slight Beatles influence or the influence of bands influenced by the Beatles that coats this song.

There is a looser jazz like feel to the more jammy "Where did it all Go". This is the first song where the band’s playing shows hints of chops adventurous enough to earn the prog title. The guitar solo rides in on a distant wave of feedback and is more of a sonic texture than even Hendrix styled shredding. "Sleep With Me "is rather literal as it possess a more slumbering atmosphere than anything that would suggest something sexual, in fact the fey falsettos give the songs an asexual atmosphere. They conjure up this opiate induced lullaby that drifts on its dream like current. While it defies your more typical notions of where a song should go and floats into a more cerebral realm.

The clearest display of their playing lies in the guitar that opens up "In Nova's Bedroom". The guitar is picked out in an intricate pattern that reminds me of Yes' Steve Howe. The vocals provide atmosphere to the background rather starting off as a focal point of the song. Overall this trippy listen shows tons of promise with its organic weirdness and penchant for layers of unexpected sounds bouncing off one another. For a band this young moments like “Nova’s Bedroom” will drop your jaw. If you are looking for some well crafted weirdness with a 60s after taste and coating of indie rock then here is an album for you, make sure to hunt it down when it is released on October 23rd, but for an early taste click on the player below and tune in and drop out.

Album of the Week : Rabid Young 's "Ep1"

Here is another reminder of what pop music could be if placed in the right hands. Rabid Young puts a different spin on the concept of a band, ...yes, a  band, as  they actually play instruments while creating  a hybrid form of pop. They combine indie rock with electronica with fluid grace.   Rabid Young might seem like fresh face, but they are veterans from the Las Vegas music scene. Half the band are former members of Most Thieves, who opened for the Killers on their 2014 tour. Their debut opens with the song “Pieces" taking the emotive context by the last generation of pop punk bands that would be called emo and  fusing  it with what the Postal Services. This might be more sugar coated than what  Death Cab For Cutie does, but they do prove that pop isn't always a bad word. Here there are enough interesting sounds encircling you to come across as One Direction jamming with Paramore.

" Not Enough" has a wider range to it's emotional context. The  gang vocals cheering in to accent the chorus reminds me of something 30 Seconds to Mars might do. Though its synths that punch into the chorus where Jared Leto's band would let big arena rock power chords rings out. While these guys have a bigger sound than your average indie electro pop band they are far from arena rock. There is an interesting break after the second chorus. This album is really well produced. The vocals always sit right where they should. While the lead singer's tenor hovers around the same range, the melodies lend themselves to creating smooth hooks, which is the most focused weapon in their arsenal.

“Beautiful Things” has  more bounce in its step, working off a more typical expand and contract songwriting formula, but with the bridges smoothing over the two sections into another almost as catchy as the chorus. This band’s knows how to hit you with hook after hook, which is like a pop bands version of shredding. There is a break down with acoustic guitar before the last chorus builds “Some Time” even goes a step further in pop direction, with the underlying soulfulness that resides in the dna of all good pop music layered into what isn’t your typical major key harmonies.

They close the ep with their strongest song "Home" that blends ambiance and melody while allowing their singer's voice to really find it's best footing and making the best use of his pipes. Driven by piano more than guitar. I’’ll this song is so good they might find themselves wedged between Queen and Rasputina on my iPod, pop music has also been a guilty pleasure of mine, I’ll admit to seeing the Katy Perry movie, but I don’t her last album. The new Dr. Dre has been scratching my more mainstream itch, but be it Rabid Young or Dr. Dre, at the end of the day good songs win out not matter the genre. While I Look forward to hearing how they mature this sound with futures releases , what is being presented here has gotten a lot of unexpected play from me.But you don't have to get down to Taylor Swift in your car while no one is watching you in traffic to get drawn into the passionate electro pop that this band so effortlessly weaves. Look forward to hearing how they mature this sound with futures releases .

Uncovered Cover: no carrier's "Boys of Summer"

Things change. One of those this band. These German transplants have offered up a tribute to their adopted home of California. They are going about this in a most unexpected way.  You would think that making a cover album would be taking the easy way out, but they easy refuse on themselves. The subject matter inspired them to pick songs outside of the comfort zone of most electronic projects. But they do not let the complications end there,  they tackle  three of the four songs using different guest vocalists.This also made way for this newest offering which was released back in May to take them in a different direction. It is a step away from the darker more futuristic sound of their previous work and embrace a new sound that  retains elements of the dark wave sheen from the previous album, adding a  more organic rock feel to most of the songs.

 The first of the cover songs that we are featuring for this column below is the band's take on in the  "Don Henley's "Boys of Summer". It seems fitting since we are winding down into the final dog days of summer and fall begins to thankfully nip at our heels. Their version might stray in some respects but retains s the hushed introspection of Henley's original. The 80s feel remains intact if we are talking about the a more new wave side of the decade, though this is done in a way that doesn't come across like they are ironically retro. Audio Terrorist singer Kalib Duarte  adds his own brand of passion to the performance rather than pretending he is in an Eagles tribute band.  The programmed drums shift around the pocket that would normally have been occupied  by the straight  AOR radio rock beat most bands would  have slavishly adhered to.

 Melissa Harding lends her pipes for their version of  Belinda Carlisle's "California". This song is executed with a steamy pulse in the same Hollywood zip code as Lana Del Rey. The backing vocals are well layered and used like another instrument rather than just to bolster her voice. They convey both the glamour as well as the darker cloud of unclenched dreams that haunts the city.This is followed by Laura Lee Brown's husky approach to Toney Carey from Rainbow's classic "Room With a View". They have darkened the song up to reflect the desperation in the lyrics, which tell the tale of the ever growing homeless population, that was mild when this song was written compared to the cities with in city that are cropping up under bridges through the urban landscape.

 Finally lead singer Cynthia Wechselberger takes the mic on what is a very traditional yet haunting treatment of the Irish folk song " She Move Through" . She sings with a reverence to the traditional versions of the song, with and admiration only conveyed by bands  like Dead Can Dance who also show similar respect to the timeless folk songs  which span the ages. The electronics provide atmosphere in the background, but allow her voice to shine. The tastefully restrain themselves until the final forty-five seconds where they blast into full-blown electronics.This album might not fit neatly into your preferred genre, but it is a bold new step for the band and deserves as listen to fans of edm, goth or dark wave, as it is none of those things and yet all of those things. They displayed a sense of adventure with "Ghosts of the West Coast" that few band these days have the courage to step off of their bandwagons to attempt. No only do they show that they are capable of coloring outside of the lines they pushed themselves far beyond the comfort zones of most  electronic projects and pave they way toward  future that knows no bounds. If you are bored of your current electro play list then this is worth your time.


The Unravelling : "Tear a Hole In the Collective"

After a taste of the "Revolt" single we brought you last year, you might be curious to how the more industrial minded direction the project is going would fare on a full length. One of the changes in their evolving sound is that this go around vocals in the verses of the opening song have a slight after taste of Killing Joke to them that compliments the electronic pulse that accompanies the songs that dissect the direction the world is heading. What we previously heard from the band, had a more slightLY commercial hard rock edge . Not unlike many of the post Tool crop that came out of the late 90s, like Chevelle, 30 Seconds to Mars and Ten Years. The vocals are given more love this time as the layers are well thought and smartly placed. They get the most industrial pound on "Lucky Me" . They vocals ponder the apocalyptic state of union amid the swirl of guitar swarming over the programmed patter of the drums. The title carries a throb that is a few shades darker as the vocals form a more militant chant around it. They display a greater range of dynamics they are capable of by dropping back into a cyber-ballad, with Cure like guitar painting the atmosphere in the foreground before the sonic damn can no longer hold the repressed anger that set the mood for this album.

"the Fearless Seed" opens with an almost darkwave synth pulsing. The song gradually builds with the vocals providing a harmonized plea to change how we treat nature and the world around us through veiled metaphor. The line " human being doing face your ghost" reminds me of a quote from the book "Conversation with God". The social commentary continues and you begin to find yourself becoming more keyed in on the lyrics as the album takes you down its rabbit hole.

"Enough is Enough" has a similar brooding to the previous song, though drums feel more organic feel and the lyrics read like the headlines of, the line "beautiful actress/ famous in hell" caught me. While there is a dense chug to the guitar of "Master Drone" a single released earlier this year, more metallic moments are the exception to the rule, but provide a more intense dynamic to set the other songs against. The song does build into a slinky groove that has a hook to it. In the past some of their work might have come closer to prog rock, here it is clearly more rooted in electronics, but not at the sake of leaving the guitar behind. The effected guitar shimmering behind the beat might bring to mind some of Nine Inch Nails more introspective moments. "Revolt" makes a return here and the new songs sit well against it.

 The album closes out with "We Have No Problems" starting as one of the album's heavier songs and then ebbs backs into ambiance with clean delayed out guitar shimmering over the heavier riff which sets back in the background to provide more of a looming vibration, before they build it back up again. This is the first song where the singer takes on a throatier roar. By a metal head's standards it's far from a death metal growl and might be relatively tame to younger ears, it gets the job done here, much in the same way Killing Joke employs huskier vocals to build things up on their post-80s work.Get a taste of the album below as it is highly recommended to those who like industrial trappings to their progressive hard rock, in the same zip code at times as Stabbing Westward just without the goth like elegance or arena rock chords on the choruses. There is nothing else like this coming out these days so if you were into ' Dredg and A Perfect Circle's darker side or mid-period Nine Inch Nails, where industrial was just one of the genres of rock dipped into rather than pulling of chaotic machinations like Skinny Puppy, then this is well worth your time. 

Album of the Week : Skittish "Two Legs Bad"

The strum to "Baggage" is the first song that really has any folk trappings, even then his vocals have an almost punk attitude to them.  The chorus is big and bold and brings back the sound of 70s glam. Not really Bowie more of a T-rex thing, not that his vocal has that subtle fey inflection of Marc Bolan it's just grandiose in a vaudevillian manner , but with plenty of soul. The picking becomes more intricate and they take a more introspective almost Radiohead like tone. Though this is much more organic than what Thom Yorke and friends do. The vocal melody has a dreamy laziness to it that hasn't been found on the other songs. Both singers have a wide stylistic range that they adapt to different songs which run the gambit from almost glam rock to more traditional strains of folk. They take a darker vibe almost like something Rasputina would do though it has a more western ramble as the bass line struts underneath it. The chorus to this song makes it one of the albums best songs as the singer puts her voice in all the right places.They go back into the almost psychedelic creep of "I Killed a Spider" . They hit the rock chord with the needed bombast to make the most of their dynamics.

They break things down to almost a Kate Bush ballad on "Meet Your Maker"  which closes out the album. Overall this album was a nice surprise. It has the balls of 70s rock coupled with a sense of adventure and progressive in much of the same way a band like the Decemberists is. Fans of bands ranging from the White Stripes to Rusted Root will find something to get down to on this album. Check out the first single "Shot in the Dark" and keep your eyes peeled to the inner webs for when the album drops. 

Album Review - the Shakey Tables : "A Shakey Table Situation"

Varied genres of music have seen an assortment of incarnations over the years. In the more recent musical climate disco and funk is not as explored these days in the organic format the music was originally preformed in, perhaps dipped into by electronic artists like Daft Punk to toy with or as a sampled backing track for a hip hop pop song, but seldom do musicians pick up real instruments to make it in the post-Myspace world of music. Shakey Tables are bucking the trend and doing just that. They not only place dancey retro tinged pop with real instruments but they also write odes to shoe fetishes  such as "I Like Your Shoes" which is also the lead single off of their album "A Shakey Table Situation". "Crescent Groove" relaxes a little and it not as in your face dancey. With "If You Are the Devil" They relax even further into an almost old school r&b groove that has just enough wah-wah in the guitar to make it funk. The vocal hook is locked into the groove on this making it a pretty smooth ride. The combination of lyrics and melody remind me of "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz, which is ironic considering there is a song about shoes on this album.

They take a turn into more modern pop with rock drive on "Boom Biddy" This is also the first time the two female singers flanking Jaclyn really come across as girl group like the Supremes, this is done in a more Pussy Cat Dolls manner on "Don't Stop". There is a more of a big band jazz , rag time show tune feel swagger to "Mr. Vampire" , which is the most upbeat song about vampires that I have heard. The guitar displays a Stray Cats like knack for authentic solos that pay homage to the time period." On "Everything is coming up Roses" they take another turn toward old 50s styled rock n roll, not in the jazz inflected manner Amy Winehouse does, but with more funk kick. The song is turned around in the third act and shift in a more rock no roll direction. The horn section never makes it feel like they are stepping back into the ska of the 90s. The album closes on one of its strongest songs. "Good Kings" starts off like more of alternative pop ballad, but builds up into something that reminds me more of a 70s rock act like Aerosmith. Overall this album is a lot of fun, this fun is conveyed well in the video for their single below. If you haven’t traded in all your Dee-lite or Bee-Gees albums to hear robots singing to you on the radio then this album is what you have been waiting for even with some of it’s rock n roll leanings , which are never heavy handed but only add to the album’s drive. For a taste check out their video below.

Album Review : Just Walden's "From a Distant Land"

Just Walden’s second album “From a Distant Land” finds this project even more finely tuned while still managing to move in a more experimental direction. “Robbie D” opens the album and right from the onset of this you can tell this album is going to be very different, but little do you know just how things are going to change along the way. Jazz is mixed with down tempo electronica. The vocals are fluid with a slight air of Peter Gabriel to them, which makes sense, as this is a pretty progressive endeavor. When I say progressive here I don't mean this album is preoccupied with odd time signatures, because it's very song oriented almost to the point of having a pop slant. Its some of the compositional choices like how a grand pianos flows out of electro-pop. As the album sails onto more Shins like waters with the more up-tempo pop psychedelic of "Howl Outside My Door”. The track gets manipulated and at time is spun backwards like it is being remixed by a dj as you are listening to it.

“Fading So Slow" finds every thing broken down to a piano ballad that allows the vocals to pour desperate passion over the melody, which rightfully takes center stage here. Acoustic guitar is slowly strummed out behind it. "Fall From Grace" is slightly more upbeat, the vocal melody more soulful and less contemplative. The more jazz flavored sounds return on the atmospheric instrumental track" Lets Sneak into the Vanguard “that has a ripple of Rhodes organ dominating ambiance. It feels more like an extended intro to "No Tears" to me; if they were going for more a proggy thing here then longer songs would be in order.

The pulse of an electronic beat propels "No Tears". The songs layers of vocal harmonies are the focus until the trickling arpageated keyboards section spirals into the spotlight leaving the vocals to seem like more of accent. Another instrumental crops up this one has a more seventies prog, like something Tangerine Dream might have written if they were scoring lunar landing. Tell the last one goodbye comes out of this rather smoothly and carries a feel of the mellow "soft rock" of the 70s but not to the extent of say Air Supply. This is a great chill album for people who still require a surreal sense of adventure to their music. Check out "Robbie D" below.