Thursday, June 28, 2012

Explosions in the Sky illuminate the Ryman with brilliant blinding light

Rarely has there been a more aptly titled band. Explosions in the Sky may seem like a random, odd or even dumb name, but if you think that then you haven't seen what I saw at the Ryman Auditorium Wednesday night. The instrumental rock quintet from Austin, TX have been one of the key contributors to a surge in popularity of post rock, which uses the traditional rock instruments but seeks to use them in new and innovative ways.

The sound is characterized by soft, pretty melodic lead guitar playing or sometimes ambiance that builds as the song progresses. Most of their songs are a slow burn until the reach their crescendo, breaking out into a devestating collection of loud, heavy and punishing riffs.

Or, another way of putting it -- they explode.

Explosions in the Sky present the most prolific post-post rock spectacle Nashville has likely ever seen. 

They are well known for their ability to transmit a sense of jubilation, which is exactly what they got across to
a packed house at the Ryman. When the climaxes hit, it projects the type of sensation that makes you want to launch yourself from your seat and raise your fists to the air, which is exactly what many did during the final song of the band's set.

With three guitarists, a bassist, and a propulsive drummer in Chris Hrasky, it's easy for Explosions to make a ton of noise. As far as actual songs go, it's tough to pick them out as the nature of their music causes the songs to run together. This makes it hard for me to sit through post rock albums, but seeing it preformed on a live stage is something else entirely. It's like taking a journey to another world for an hour and a half. I thought I might be bored, but that wasn't the case at all. Conversely, I started to get bummed out everytime they got to a quiet passage beacuse I was afraid it might be ending soon.

And they were class acts to boot. Before getting started, they paid the Ryman its proper respects. "You all know better than us the importance of this room," guitarist Munaf Rayani intoned. They also took the time to laud their opening act, Zammuto, fronted by former Books co-conspirator Nick Zammuto. I've always felt that headliners should give a shout to their opening bands more often, and Zammuto was certainly one worth bestowing lavish praise upon.

They focused on offbeat patterns and time signatures laid down by drummer Sean Dixon, along with Nick's quirky, digitized aututone vocals. They also have a penchant for humor, it seems. During their performance there was a marquee running in the background playing videos about tech deck skateboard tricks, a guy making fun of standard rock time signatures, and plenty more. Some pieces focused on intricate guitar noodling, while others, like "Zebra Butt," employed heavy use of electronics to create raging rave breakdowns.

Nick Zammuto wants to shove a Zebra butt directly into your face.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Totally Unauthorized 2012 2nd Quarter Report: April - June

If the first three months of the year were filled with great tracks, then the last three have built on that promise and have set up 2012 to be one of the greatest music years in recent history. The second installment in my rundown of the year's best tracks features a little something for everyone. Here are my 15 favorite tracks from the spring and summer months:

Lotus Plaza - Black Buzz

Lockett Pundt, better known as the guitarist from Deerhunter, gave us another look at his dream like playing style on his sophomore solo album, Spooky Action at a Distance. "Black Buzz" offers smoky, Lee Hazlewood inspired guitar work, while Pundt focuses on his personal battle with drug addiction. This is the theme to a spaghetti western where the good guys don't ride off into the sunset.

Orbital - Distractions

It's been a long wait, but British rave masters Orbital are at the top of their game. "Distractions" is the deepest track from their new album, Wonky. There's a groovy dub feel to it, along with space age sound effects, a headbanging breakdown, and a layer that sounds like a hypnotic undersea dance party. What's not to like?

BadBadnotGood - Rotten Decay

The prodigies from Badbadnotgood may specialize in jazz, but collaborations with the likes of Tyler, the Creator shows hip hop culture runs deep in their veins. Pianist Matthew A. Tavares steals the show with dark and brooding chords that could be the beat for a downbeat hip hop track. Drummer Alexander Sowinksi's fills are furious and frenetic, and greatly complement the beautiful but bummed out atmosphere.

Of Monsters and Men - King and Lionheart

Icelandic pop folksters Of Monsters and Men had a heady 2011, and the worldwide release of "My Head is an Animal" sees them getting in touch with their earthy side. "King and Lionheart" tells the story of a king's servant who faces haunted oceans and mythical beasts, but swears to serve to the end. Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir's majestic vocal sets the tone, while Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson chimes in with perfectly timed cymbal clashes.

Jack White - Trash Tongue Talker

Jack White's Blunderbuss painted a electrifying tapestry of the American music history, and "Trash Tongue Talker" sees him spew the blues like none other. White spits acid at a former ladyfriend, while static guitars crackle and buzz in a Little Richard inspired rage. If you need a soundtrack for kicking your good for nothing lover to the curb, here it is.


Off! - Wiped Out

Keith Morris, of Black Flag and Circle Jerks fame, entered our consciousness with the Off's First Four EPs. Now he returns with his new band's first full LP, and it's even fuzzier and angrier than before. The lead single, "Wiped Out," is the perfect anthem for stage diving, beer spilling, and wrecking everything in your living room.

Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion

This collaboration between two of the finest minds in progressive rock was long anticipated, and the title track was no disappointment. The Storm Corrosion album attempted to cover a good bit of ground, but the title song brought those disparate elements together better than any other. Beautiful, haunting melodies, somber acoustic guitar, and even a bit avant garde/drone influences make "Storm Corrosion" one of the most unique tracks this year.

Beach House - Myth

Few artists can create a world as deep and expansive as Beach House. From the moment the hypnotic opening guitar strains kick in, you can tell the dream pop pioneers have crafted a sound you can get lost in. The expressiveness of singer Victoria Legrand will carry you to sheer bliss. By the time Alex Scally begins his tremolo strumming near the end, you'll realize you've entered a realm you won't want to depart.

Clubroot - Left Hand Path

If you dug Burial's Kindred EP from earlier this year, there's more where that came from. UK dubstep producer Dan Richmond is also known for creating work that cries out from the darkness, but he distinguishes himself from William Bevan's project in a number of ways. His minimalist approach helps the airy, spacious keyboards set the tone. That is, of course, until the hypnotic bassline comes in and puts a spell on you.

Mount Eerie - Through the Trees, Pt. 2

Phil Elverum may be an above average musician, but he truly shines in his ability to set a mood. Clear Moon gives off a vibe of driving through a forest at night while your headlights wash over all the trees. His melancholic guitar strumming and nondescript voice paints a somber picture of what it's like to exist in solitude.

Oddisee & Oliver Daysoul - You Know Who You Are (Acoustic)

Music sometimes suffers from being too bogged down by studio effects. The acoustic version of "You Know Who You Are" shows a pair of DC emcees demonstrating what hip hop can do when it has room to breathe. Oddisee's voice never wavers as he recalls people who molded him into what he is today, while Oliver Daysoul's soul inspired hook drives home the veracity of his message.

Iamamiwhoami - Goods

Swedish electro/pop starlet Jonna Lee is one strange lady. "Goods" may be the final track on her delightfully bizarre debut "Kin," but Lee sounds like she's ready to keep dancing until 3012. Her infectious melodies combine with futuristic synths and out of this world production values to forge one of the most unique and unforgettable tracks this year.

The Tallest Man on Earth - 1904

Kristian Matsson may to sticking to what he knows, but why alter the formula when you're this good at what you do?  The urgency in his voice and the crispness of his guitar couples with the brilliance of the melodies to craft a show winning tune about how everything changes and nothing stays the same.

Fiona Apple - Left Alone

How would this list be complete without a look at the indomitable Fiona Apple? Even when spitting venom and vile she's breathtaking. "Left Alone" features a minute long drum intro, a foreboding shuffling piano melody, and a voice that's all over the place while always seeming to be in the right places. This about more than music, this vantage point into a message that is intensely personal and deliriously demented. Do you dare look away?

DIIV - Doused

Zachary Cole Smith of Beach Fossils has successfully created a song that combines post rock, post punk, and dreamy indie rock, while also having aquatic influences. Smith's voice comes at you from out of a haze, while the spaced out instrumental second half is as fresh as a salty ocean wave splashing against your face. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beach House's Bloom captures dream pop's overpowering essence

Sometimes when I listen to music I see colors, although typically it's just whatever color the album art is. I've mentally tinted Jack White's Blunderbuss with a dark blue shade, while Fiona Apple's latest bears the tan and light brown hue of a brand new bookshelf. So imagine what an album like Beach House's Bloom does to a mind like mine.

When listening, I picture myself swimming through an ocean darker than a night sky with thousands of white dots floating all around. It's like being a jellyfish in an exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium. Rarely has an artist crafted a sound so deep and expansive as what Beach House has put forth here.

Multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally builds the backbone of the band's sound with dreamy guitar washes and lushly melodic keyboard rhythms, while Victoria Legrand commands the listener's attention with a voice that is majestic, graceful and soothing. Whenever I listen to her, I tend to picture her in royal purple robes wearing a crown and pointing a scepter in my direction.

It quickly becomes clear that the duo have made big improvements since 2010's Teen Dream, a record I was honestly never able to get into. It felt like it wandered, took too long to make its point, and sounded rather thin. No such issues exist on Bloom. The hooks are much stronger, the sound is deeper, and the effect is more pronounced.

"Myth" opens with a shimmering guitar pattern that sets the stage for Legrand's reverb tinged vocal, which sounds dynamic enough to absorb the whole world. The tremolo guitar solo that closes the track is one of the most brilliant musical moments this year.

The ball keeps rolling on "Wild," whose ominous verses are offset by its ethereal, floating chorus. It's helped out by a fantastic bridge section. It contains only a single synthesizer note backed by the pounding of the drums, while Legrand's voice floats up like mist from a cauldron.

Then ,of course, there is the lead single "Lazuli." This one takes a little longer to get started, but when wave after wave of vocal overdubs hits near the end of the song, the effect is simply mistifying.

Speaking of which, the entire album has a habit of building up to really nice endings. "On the Sea" begins as a simple piano ballad, but as it nears its close it introduces an extra keyboard layer and tremolo guitar strumming to establish a more dreamlike effect. I haven't heard a band this good at closing out songs since Interpol on their exceptional debut Turn on the Bright Lights.

Another plus with the album is its consistency; it never loses steam or begins to drag. "New Year" is as serene as an early morning trek along the shores of Maryland. "Other People" astounds with its sense of intimacy, and closer "Irene" is overpowering with its late 80s Cocetau Twins post punk sensibilities. Legrand's coos of "It's a strange paradise" will find a permanent place within your dreams.

The greatest works of art, no matter the medium, are those who build vast worlds to get lost in. Beach House have done more than simply craft songs; they have created a force that literally sounds like it is trying to take over your speakers and make you come along. Once you've climbed into the world of Bloom, I'll be damned if you get an urge to leave anytime soon.

Score: 94/100

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yeasayer's rhythms turn Cannery into propulsive indie dance party

Yeasayer are a curious little band. They seemed to have found their niche on their debut album, All Hour Cymbals, but couldn't be arsed to stick with the sound. Instead, they opted to introduce a heavy electronic layer into the fold for 2010's Odd Blood. That album produced its fair share of charming tunes, but also struck out on more than a few numbers. Their tour for the band's third album, the yet-to-be-released Fragrant World, made a stop at Nashville's Cannery Ballroom Friday night, and served notice that the experimental Brooklyn outfit intend to continue blazing forth on the path established on Odd Blood.

Chris Keating: point man for Yeasayer's devious style.
Over the course of an hour and a half, Cannery was transformed into a electro/indie pop dance party. It was easy to feel like you were in another world. The set kicked off with "Fragrant World," which sported bass so loud and warbly I thought I had somehow walked into a Rusko concert.

Lead vocalist Chris Keating thrilled the crowd with his impassioned late 80s pop crooning. And hey look, it's Jesus on guitar. Bushy bearded guitarist Anand Wilder, who bears a strong resemblance to the world's most famous prophet, added the final element to the song with a shimmering middle eastern inspired lead. It fit in perfectly with the band's demented techno backdrop.

Meanwhile, a dizzying and dazzling array of lights and laser beams is lighting up the whole dance floor. People are talking about crowd surfing. And Yeasayer is busy ripping into "Henrietta," Fragrant World's lead single. Keating's passionate cries to the titular character split the air as the beautiful chaos unfolds.

Naturally, the setlist was pretty Fragrant World heavy. The band unveiled 10 of the album's 11 tracks, omitting only closer "Glass of the Microscope." From what I could pick up on, the album is very bass heavy and pushes the digitized nature of the band's music to new levels. The song structures seem less obviously pop based and tend to focus more on the backing instrumentation. And while it's a rare opportunity to be able to preview an album like this, there are clear reasons why most bands release the album first and then tour.

When nearly 90 percent of your setlist is composed of tracks that aren't yet officially released, your audience has no time to acquaint themselves with the material and develop a bond with it. The Odd Blood songs drew far larger audience response than anything else. "O.N.E." and "Ambling Alp" were massive singalongs for everyone in attendance, and by the time they got to "Madder Red" the crowd surfing was in full force. The vocal interplay between Keating and Wilder near the end of "O.N.E." is the stuff of legends.

As if recognizing that the second half of Odd Blood was less than stellar, the band skipped over it entirely. But there are still some good songs the guys missed; "I Remember" and "Love Me Girl" would have made nice additions. But the most glaring omission was the fact that no songs were preformed from All Hour Cymbals, regarded by many as the band's best album. "2080" was sorely missed. That song was so well tailored for live settings that the band preformed it in a French apartment building as a Take Away Show for La Blogotheque in 2008.

However, it was clear this night was rightfully about Fragrant World, and performance wise it's hard to find fault. The passion and intensity was there, as Yeasyaer presented a very cutting edge vibe. You might expect to see this type of act in Brooklyn or Chicago or some big city, but never Nashville. And that felt special.

Delicate Steve drummer Mike Duncan pours his soul into the percussion.

They were preceded by Delicate Steve, a band I'd seen a couple years back at The End. I was thoroughly unimpressed then and saw little to change my opinion tonight, but they have improved. They specialize in a brand of slightly offbeat, light and breezy instrumental indie rock.

Steve Marion put on an expert display with his guitar leads, and Mike Duncan's drums were thunderous. They also added in some light vocals here and there, but it's extremely minor. Nothing bad about them, it's just that watching a guy play a guitar solo for 50 minutes gets more than a bit boring.

They did a great job of setting the stage for Yeasayer, who affirmed once again their status as a great live act and reaffirmed my faith in them a bit. After a few missteps on Odd Blood, I was a bit on the fence. But tonight they demonstrated enough that I may need to give Fragrant World a shot after all.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kings show off their best grooves with the Endless Fog EP

I don't know much about this genre, so this won't be a full blown review. But I do want to give a shout to Kings for the Endless Fog EP. It presents a very funktacular sound, which some circles have taken to referring to as trap music. But generally, it's chock full of thick, heavy beats designed for serious grooving. It sounds like a beat you might hear from Outkast or Cities Aviv, or maybe something Sepalcure would do. It's got a bottom end like no other.

"Trap Musik 1" opens up totally chill, and features a brassy sounding synth, clashing of the drums, and a thick main melody over the top. "Galaxy Wave" opens with a shimmering main beat, then dazzles with a multitude of layers that all come in at the same time.

And the title song loads up on the buzzing bass and dynamic percussion. The only thing I don't like is the constant vocal samples in songs like "Let Go of the Pain" (it sounds like he's saying I over and over again). But the best part is that it's free. A copy is available over at the Soulection Bandcamp page if you're so inclined.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Brad Mehldau's dizzying piano play should delight all on Ode

Brad Mehldau is a name that should elicit cheers from anyone with at least a passing knowledge in modern jazz. The celebrated pianist swung for the fences on 2010's Highway Rider, which featured elaborate arrangements incorporating a full jazz ensemble. Ode sees Mehldau return to his trio, which also consists of bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard.

Ode is something of a concept album. That is, most songs were written as a celebration to a particular someone or something. The music found here is very joyous; it's easy to get lost within its upbeat and celebratory nature, which makes it the perfect springtime or summer soundtrack. Mehldau's playing is warm and full of life, as each song takes its time developing. He'll spend a good chunk of time building a few separate movements, and then he may strike with a crescendo of lighting fast rolls to close out a track, as he does on "26."

Sometimes he may get clever and sneak them in between progressions, like on "M.B." and the title track. "Dream Sketch" is the first instance we see Mehldau break away from this approach. It's much more calm, subdued, and slow developing, but it provides a nice change of pace. Mehldau said it was inspired by music he heard in his head during an afternoon nap.

"Bee Blues" is a track that should thrill any lover of the good old school 50s and 60s bebop outfits. When Grenadier gets a chance to show off, it sounds like he's pulled a page straight out of Jimmy Garrison's book from A Love Supreme. Eventually, you get this vibe like these are a bunch of cool cats sitting around pouring out melodies in a smoke filled room. The way jazz was meant to be.

On "Stan the Man," however, it's Ballard who gets a chance to show off. He establishes his beat, and then goes into a snare roll which he plays off of masterfully. The cymbals ting and clang as he moves around his kit, adding a little accent here and there. All the while, he's never losing track of that original snare beat. As for Mehldau, he does his part by playing the track at about twice the speed of the rest of the cuts here. It's a fast and frenetic; it jumps in, kicks you in the nuts, and then leaves.

"Wyatt's Eulogy for George Hanson" establishes a different attitude entirely. If you're familiar with Easy Rider, the song title is indeed a reference to Jack Nicholson's character in said film. It opens sounding like a funeral dirge: Mehldau's gentle keystrokes are complemented by Ballard's somber cymbal rolls. The bass comes in later and creates an ominous and unsettling mood.

Nearing the close of the album is "Aquaman," a fun piece about Mehdlau's favorite childhood superhero. It's always fluttering around, moving from one place to another, never lingering in one spot too long.  Brad amazes with his ability to keep a steady rhythm with his left hand while reeling off dizzying solos with his right.

This leaves us with the two tracks inspired by Mehldau's family. "Twiggy" showcases the romantic fervor with his wife Fleurine, while "The Days of Dilbert Delaney" speaks to the joy his son Damien brings him. The two tracks bear a certain level of compositional similarity; both open sounding thoughtful, pensive and moody. It's like Mehldau is trying to compose his thoughts here to make sure he gets his message just right. "Twiggy" eventually explodes into a flurry of solos accented by thunderous drum rolls, while Delaney remains a touch more composed. It's accented by sudden, euphoric stabs that seem to cry out the joys of watching your son grow into a man.

After blazing trails on Highway Rider, it was probably necessary for Mehldau to scale things back. But what a job he's done. Not only is his virtuosity displayed here, but he also proves himself a great thinker by giving each piece a specific dedication. This way, each song has its own distinctive feel while also ensuring that the album doesn't deviate from its core theme. Ode is an album that shouts toward the heavens and raises a triumphant first in the air, and when Mehldau celebrates it's cause for music lovers of all varieties to stand up and cheer.

Score: 84/100

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Of Monsters and Men's folk bombast invites you to a magical forest

Icelandic pop/folk outfit Of Monsters and Men have released one of the most unique and unusual albums this year. Many have claimed it's one of 2012's best. There's certainly an argument to be made.

They exude a strong upper northern Euro folk feel, with the inclusion of accordions, trumpets, and loud group chorus backing vocals. The main dynamic, though, is the way the voices of their male and female lead vocalists wrap around and harmonize with one another.

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir puts on one of the most spirited vocal performances of the year. Listeners will likely be captured by the enthusiasm and sense of glee she brings to each song. But she's no softie, demonstrating a raw ability to belt it out from time to time.

She shares lead vocal duties with Ragnar Þórhallsson, who employs a richly accented Irishy sounding tenor. There's something about the way he sings that makes me want to hang on to every word he says.

There's one other key ingredient to their sound, and this one truly sets them apart: they delve pretty deeply into folk legends from Iceland and around the world. For example, "From Finner" is about a group of people who live in a house on the back of a whale. The album is peppered with little references about animals, monsters, and running through a darkened forest. In short, you have to pay close attention to the lyrics and the themes in each song or you miss a big chunk of what the album is about.

The song everyone knows is "Little Talks," which broke on the airwaves last summer. The horn and trumpet section gives a jubilant party vibe to the track, while Hilmarsdóttir and Þórhallsson paint the inner dialouge in the head of an insane man.

"King and Lionheart" tells the story of a king's servant who faces haunted oceans and mythical beasts, but courageously swears to serve to the end. The song features some of the album's best hooks, while drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson accents the stresses in each chorus with perfectly timed cymbal clashes.

"Six Weeks" is about U.S. frontiersman Hugh Glass getting in a fight with a giant grizzly bear. It sounds like a swooning old time sailor's song, and is bolstered by terrific drum fills. "Sloom" is another standout, which showcases fantastic interplay between Hilmarsdóttir and Þórhallsson. The crisp acoustic guitar makes it sound very folky, while Þórhallsson even shows a bit of an edge:

"So make all your last demands, for I will forsake you,
And I'll meet your eyes for the very first time, for the very last"

Of Monsters and Men showcase similarities to Celtic Thunder by emphasizing a strong vocal display, Arcade Fire with their male/female vocal dynamic, and certain songs, like "Slow and Steady," even show parallels to the quiet majestic approach Lykke Li championed on last year's Wounded Rhymes.

A key component of their appeal is that there's not an overabundance of earthy Icelandic animal folk pop being shoveled into the marketplace. It certainly is refreshing. That said, some hooks don't stand out as much as others. "From Finner," "Love Love Love" and "Yellow Light," for example, tend to just swim around in their nebulous sea of folk and don't make much of a mark.

It leaves the impression of an album that is mildly inconsistent, although it hits in most of the right places. The lyrics are also vague, to the point it's a challenge to pick up on what they're trying to say. For example, I probably would have had no idea "Six Weeks" was about Hugh Glass if the band hadn't come out and said so.

But all that aside. you have to admire their spirit. They seem so passionate and totally caught up in this world they've created about animals and monsters in the woods. Album of the year? Not a solid contender, in my opinion. But if nothing else, it's undoubtedly the Northern European nature folk/pop sailor's song album of the year.

Score: 81/100

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Big Sleep rouses from their slumber with Nature Experiments

Brooklyn indie rockers The Big Sleep haven't been able to catch a break. They gained attention early in their career for a pair of sludgy post-rock albums, but without the godlike climaxes usually associated with bands from the genre.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the type of attention they were looking for. Both albums  took a major critical walloping, so it's no surprise that virtually no one noticed the release of the trio's latest record, Nature Experiments. This is a real shame, because Nature Experiments is easily one of the most pleasant surprises so far of 2012.

For the first time, they've had the foresight to knock off the post rock nonsense. The Big Sleep specialize in dark, aggressive, moody, and moving hard rock. Have no doubts, The Big Sleep sounds best when they are at their loudest. "Four Wishes," the album's undisputed standout track, is a clinic on simple but effective heavy rock riffs. Combined with the frenetic drum rolls and the clashing of the cymbals, this is the perfect soundtrack to get your head lashing back and forth.

But they aren't your average hard rock band, or even really a hard rock band at all. Guitarist Danny Barria majors in detached aggro post punk rhythms -- the sort championed by Cloud Nothings on their excellent Attack on Memory album earlier this year -- while also capturing the sonic dreariness of Radiohead circa Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief. "Ladders" possesses a driving sense of unease, and looks at the world with the same type of youthful, wide eyed curiosity that Sonic Youth evoked on their seminal single "Teenage Riot."

The other key similarity the share with Sonic Youth is their male/female vocal tandem, who, like SY, are also pretty pedestrian. Due to the strength of the rest of the music, it's fairly forgivable. Bassist/keyboardist Sonya Balchandani has the type of voice that takes a few listens to appreciate. However, tracks like "Ace" reveals she also has a hypnotic and honey-like quality. Her voice flows forth over the crushing din of Danny Barria's guitar work in the song's hook laden delectable chorus.

They get experimental on "Valentine." The song opens with what sounds like the twinkling of windchimes. The effect is actually created by Barria scraping his pick against the guitar strings where they connect with the bridge of the guitar, creating a high pitched plinking sound. This effect is then looped and repeated on tape playback throughout the duration of the song. It came across as a clever effect when he did it on a live stage, and it still sounds great in the recorded version.

Balchandani handles the bulk of the vocal duties, but occasionally she turns the mic over to axeman Barria. He is less effective, as his voice is much more of a coarse and ungainly shout. His most effective vocal track is "Meet Your Maker," where his exuberant rallying cry is delivered like a punch to the gut.

"Ghosts in Bodies" features an instrumental track that hearkens back to the band's post rock days, while "Wood in the Water" is the album's only major misstep. The spacey keyboard and monotone vocals sound like a lost and forgotten relic from the early 80s, or perhaps a trip taken from too much bad acid.

Most of the lyrics touch on themes of perseverance. The otherwise unimpressive "#1" sees Barria reflecting on some type of failure, and his resolution to work things out by the end of the song. Meanwhile, "Wood on the Water" concentrates on seeing the positive aspects of people, and using this to build ourselves into something more.

It all wraps up with closer "1001," a quiet piece featuring only keyboard and Balchandani's voice. Its subdued and melancholy melody provides a nice contrast to the rest of the record.

Naturally, they don't measure up with some of the legendary bands that have been mentioned here. A few uneven tracks hold this back from being a five star effort. However, Nature Experiments successfully blends together crunching riffs with post rock influences while managing to be melodic and hypnotic.

There aren't many indie bands who inhabit the heavier end of the spectrum, and it's nice to hear some legitimately well written riffs in the same context with sounds that are much more melodic, thoughtful, and pensive. Nature Experiments reveals that The Big Sleep have not yet evolved into dynamos, but at least they have found their path.

Score: 84/100