Mutiny Records – July 22, 2016
Back in my days of hosting WRFL-Live! – during which time I hosted somewhere around fifty or sixty bands – I distinctly remember Dream the Electric Sleep as the loudest. Though the band is made up of just three musicians, Matt Page, Joey Waters, and Chris Tackett create sounds that are not simply big, but complex, nuanced, and beautiful. Further, the production on Beneath the Dark Wide Sky showcases how in-sync the three are with one another. The songs here choose texture and melody over speed – this isn’t the sort of prog-rock that tries to blow your mind with a sheer number of notes played. Instead, they let the rhythm subdivision propel the energy in their songs, so that while they may not ever feel fast, they do feel massive and unstoppable. “Let the Light Flood In” is maybe the album’s most accessible and is primed for radio play with a catchy, impactful chorus. My favorite of the album is “Culling the Herd” – seven minute track, complete with a rich chord progression in the chorus, and a word-painted bridge whose tonality and repetition cleverly mimic the lyrics ‘when you fall you fall hard, from the top down to the bottom, there’s nothing to stop.’ As an album, Beneath the Dark Wide Sky is expertly produced and performed, and full of colossal, beautiful, well-structured songs that are difficult not to be mesmerized by.
Tracks I Liked: Let the Light Flood In!, Flight, Hanging By Time, Culling the Herd!!, The Last Psalm to Silence, The Good Night Sky!
Ben Southworth – September 11, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Instrumental Post Rock
Self-Released – January 9th, 2016
Sea Hero is a Louisville five-piece that released this album just in time to call it quits as a band. Though the group has been playing and producing music since before 2012, Graustark is the first album of theirs that I’ve heard, and a really nice one at that. Made up of six songs, the album plays in under thirty-five minutes, but in no way does it feel short or rushed – most of the songs are mid-tempo, texturally oriented tracks that take a calculated time to flesh themselves out before reaching their next point of arrival. Without words (although “Pride Comes Before the Fall” features a vocal sample), Sea Hero is fully capable of conveying emotion and some narrative with guitars, a bass, and drums. Most effective are those tracks that fully explore the band’s capacity for range – the album’s first track, “Like Beasts,” begins with a quiet intro, patiently rumbles into a full-out wash of guitars, and exits softly with a reprise of the intro. In much the same way, “A Spoonful of Dirt,” closes the album with even more a patient build, reaching multiple climaxes throughout its playtime – the final three minutes of the song are totally gorgeous, well-orchestrated noise. Between these two tracks are heavier, grungier pieces of music – “They Will Fall, They Always Do” has the distortion and reverb turned up on the guitars, the bass pumping with a more devious intensity, and an even more dramatic presence from the drums. As a whole, Graustark is well-paced, intricate, and explores a full range of textures, atmospheres, and emotions. For those who like post-rock – Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or even Sigur Rós – this should be a very enjoyable and repeatable listen.
Tracks I Liked: Like Beasts!!, Pride Comes Before the Fall!, They Will Fall, They Always Do, A Spoonful of Dirt!!!
Ben Southworth – January 13th, 2016 – Kenwick Place
October 17th, 2015 – Gubbey Records
The Mechanical Hearts EP is the product of Louisville’s hard driving trio, Satellite Twin – the EP is a collection of five spacey, angular songs that tie together sounds from both prog, post, and punk rock. Most of the songs start with extended instrumental sections that shuffle back and forth between off-kilter phrases, and even when they get to the lyrics, they’re usually not around for too long. The instrumental ability of the band is the most important part of the album – two of the three musicians can be doing something fairly repetitive, keeping perfect time while the third goes off on some sort of totally outrageous pattern. Satellite Twin would play well in a live setting – I imagine that the show would only amplify the intensity and excitement that the band is able to capture on the tape. The final track of the album, “cracks and stains (on the marquee slogan)” is the obvious stand out here – you can feel the song getting more and more anxious as it heads towards the chorus, bursts forth into an incredibly catchy recitation of the song’s title, does a quick coordinated turnaround, and heads back into the song’s main groove. Other tracks are good too – the breakdown that happens towards three minute mark of “raise the sign” feels like it comes out of nowhere, and it’s an incredibly satisfying way to end the song. The Mechanical Hearts EP is has a way of being simultaneously atmospheric and hazy while feeling intense and relentless. Another strong release from an inventive Louisville band, this is worth checking out.
Tracks I Liked: raise the sign!!, mechanical hearts!, cracks and stains (on the marquee slogan)!!!
Ben Southworth – November 15th, 2015 – William T. Young Library
Fuzzy Psych Rock
October 2nd, 2015 – Gubbey Records
New Bravado is a band that I’ve only heard a song or two from before this album – I remember seeing them among the other forty-five songs on Gubbey’s Head Cleaner Vol. 1&2 from late 2013. Otherwise, the band’s sound is new to me, and their music is a refreshing find. Though the music on Sun and Moon is wrapped thickly in psychedelic influence – warped guitars, reverberating vocals, and fuzzy bass – the songs don’t get lost in themselves. Even tracks like “Vacant,” which employs some nearly disorienting chord changes, never quite come untethered from their direction. Though the guitars, synths, and effects have a way of manipulating the listener into getting lost in the sounds they’re generating, the bass and drums stay steady and anchor the tracks before the band in full jostles you back into their forward motion. There are hints of prog-rock and even some blues here, too, but for the most part the record keeps itself rooted in steadily moving psych rock – though the arrangements might get a little dense at times, the songs remain light and agile. If you’re a fan of rock music in any form, I think this should keep you interested – Sun and Moon is inventive and intricately crafted, but it remains accessible and easy to pick up.
Tracks I Liked: Sol Similar!!, White Jesus!, Vacant!!, Adelaide!, Bit By Piece!, Sun and Moon!
Stream the Album Below:
Ben Southworth – October 17th, 2015 – Park Avenue
Ben Norton’s Collateral Damage, Pt. 1 is the first in a trilogy of three albums – this one a protest to American imperialism, particularly the highly controversial issue of drone strikes that effect the innocent. The album is a fast moving five song piece that covers far more moods and sounds than there are songs. Most every song transitions through several musically thematic ideas, but constantly returns to the hard-driving foundation that is found in the short first track. Not only are the songs complicated in that each contains several sections, but in that each section is densely packed with numerous independent parts that whip through each other. Ben has made the scores for each song available on his site, and taking a look through the score for any of them is evidence of the complexity he has created here. Lyrically, there’s not a lot being veiled here – the words are easy to interpret and don’t hold very much back, particularly the last song’s main theme: “They must be punished for the worst crime of all, being born in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” Also important to note is that Ben has been in charge of each part of the process here – he’s written the words and music, performed (or programmed) all the parts, done the post-production, created the album art, and even put together an entire website with as many resources for the album as you can imagine. Whether you consider the independence with which this whole project was put together, this album is a great piece of work, and Norton’s musical knowledge is easy to pick up on on your first listen. If you’re a fan of metal, prog-rock, mathcore – or anything in that particular vein – give it a listen.
Tracks I Liked: All of them, especially Dreams in a Vacuum!!, Whose Child!!, and Wrong Place, Wrong Time!!!
– Ben Southworth