The reason this one caught our attention is because the band has a sound that is more 1980s techno than 2016 techno. From the sounds we're hearing on The Past Will Last Forever it sounds as if they're using some analog synthesizers. We've been big fans of electro pop ever since we heard John Foxx's Metamatic album years ago. The folks in Occurrence record songs that seem strangely out of place in the twenty-first century. And, considering the state of commercial music of late, that's a really great thing. Not only are the vintage electronics here appealing, but we also dig the vocals cuz they add a somewhat cold and detached presence. This music will ultimately appeal most to fans of the underground. None of these tracks have that ultra-polished modern sound that is characterized by too many overdubs, samey sounding effects, and arrangements that are over the top. These recordings have a somewhat gritty unperfect sound that's really rather...groovy. Ten nifty cuts here including "The Things I've Always Liked I Now Hate," "A Bruised Ivy Grad," "The Sadness Sure Gets Me," and "I Like You More When You're Stoned" (gotta love those song titles...).
A musical comedy hour.
With a voice like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Berry brings a full album of comedic musical pieces with everything from a Southern country kick to a jazzy Broadway number. Focusing mainly on his past experience with both successful and failed encounters with the ladies, Berry brings to the table an enjoyable hour of musical comedy.
The 10-track album begins with the song “Awkward Stage,” which reflects on the dilemmas of this awkward period of his life. Sharing his story that is full of “struggle and strife,” he wants to “rage against his dying age” by refusing to go along with the social standards preset for his given age. “Big Heart” has an easy-going melody although it may sound harsh, resonating like an educational kid’s sing-a-long. “The Piano Tuner with the Lazy Eye” has a little Jack Johnson vibe; a rainy lazy day acoustic number which is met with a Broadway musical kick at the height of the song. “Crabs” is a crescendoing rock track similar to the style of Queen or Billy Joel, which may get a little repetitive with Berry singing, “She gave me the crabs!”
“Love Is the New Black” is a posh piano Broadway number beginning with a sassy narrative accompanied
witha female chorus. Beginning with a snazzy saxophone/trumpet introduction, “The Brick” is a song in which Berry says a man can be judged by how he uses his brick. As odd as it sounds, the number provides a detailed analysis of numerous situations of how bricks could be used including a funny one, “if you are hiding from the IRS, use a brick to jam the door.”
“Cross Country Love” hits the soft spot for all long-distance couples out there. Berry explains in the number how he can’t help but end up in a long-distance relationship despite the challenge because he believes in “cross country love” and stacking up mileage points. The take-away number from the album has to be “The Day We Stole Steve Martin,” a nostalgic number reflecting on that one day in high school Berry and his friends continue to laugh about over a six-pack and a box of pizza; the day they attempted to steal a cut-out of Steve Martin. Described in a detailed manner, it is best to give this number a careful listen to see whether or not they were met with success.
To sum up the album, it’s a PG-13 version of the musical Book of Mormon, for those who have seen the absolutely hilarious musical filled with sarcasm and satire. Berry does a good job mixing up the genres of music from country to jazz and is able to skillfully tell stories without disrupting the musical process. Awkward Stage is definitely an album to keep listeners entertained for those long road trips or endless hours stuck in evening rush hour traffic.
Theft of the Sky is a slinky rock track that links together the electro-pop of acts like INXS with bits of 1990s acts like Stabbing Westward and Savage Garden. By making something old and frayed new and alluring, what Texture & Light do on their Inner Space Odyssey is immediately impacting and
appeasingto a wide swath of fans. Pictures to Burn builds upon the same electro-infused style to make something hauntingly beautiful; the vocal and instrumental sides push each other to entirely higher plateaus.
This Too Shall Pass is our favorite outing during Inner Space Odyssey . The slower tempo and more intimate sound achieved here is made more compelling as the instrumentation picks up in the second half of the song. Predators
hasa sharp, angular sound that builds off of the blueprint of acts like Subdivisions-era Rush, Franz Ferdinand, and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn-styled Bright Eyes. Bold synths and drums match well with the robust vocals, making for a single that is funky, hard-hitting, and virtually ensures that listeners will get out on the dance floor.
Post Everything shatters illusions that listeners may have; rather than putting the chaff on the second side of the disc, Texture & Light make a rich effort that opens up considerably with each subsequent listen. So Many Things is the final track on Inner Space Odyssey; an instrumental effort, the track is an absolute must-listen in what it contributes to the overall sound of the album. There is a rich narrative that is weaved through these concluding three minutes that both inform listeners about the conclusion of this album as well as scattering hints about where Texture & Light may ultimately go on future releases. Inner Space Odyssey is out on October 14th.
Top Tracks: This Too Shall Pass, Theft of the Sky
Texture & Light – Inner Space Odyssey / 2016 / https://www.facebook.com/TrevorRefix/ / https://textureandlight.bandcamp.com
If I had any sort of musical talent, I might've put out an album like Pat Kearns' So Long City. He sings about the things I've lived through, such as moving to new places, trying to make and keep new friends, being on the road, getting away from it all and leading a simpler life. Like me he's a hobo at heart, not necessarily folksy in a Woody Guthrie sort of way but just sort of perpetually in motion, restless and looking forward to noticing and mentally cataloging all the new vistas. Even the chord progressions on his acoustic guitar are vaguely familiar--like I've stumbled onto them before while practicing. As a result, I made an immediate emotional connection with these songs, one I didn't expect.
If I could sing, and I really can't, I might even sing like him. He has an affable and clear voice, sort of a mix between Jeff Tweedy and Bob Weir, with just a touch of Jeff Buckley for the more dramatic moments. There's a likability here that seems to bleed through the fairly conventional song structures like you're finally getting to see the hometown kid on a big stage and he's far better than you thought he'd be.
Turns out I've heard Pat Kearns before. He fronted the Portland band Blue Skies for Black Hearts for many years, and I reviewed his CD back in 2014. Kearns had focused more on a power pop sound back then, very much in the mold of Big Star. So Long City delves more deeply into alt-country--it's driven by acoustic guitars, pedal steel
guitarsand even the occasional Dylanesque harmonica. It's surprisingly breezy and it goes down easy.
Kearns' lyrics can put too fine of a point on his themes as if he's quickly scribbling his thoughts down as they come. He's not obscure or overly poetic. In "From Promo Queen to Queen Bitch," the one odd cynical track on the album, he starts off "Let's get drunk/That's what your invite said/But you didn't mean it/You'd rather I
bedead." It's hurt he's singing about, not misogyny, bitter regret that might be misconstrued by more literal listeners. (That reminds me of an old girlfriend who freaked out when she heard Wilco's "Via Chicago" that starts off with the line "I dreamed about killing you again last night."No, I don't like this. Not one bit.)
Ultimately it doesn't matter since the album ends on such a strong note with the gorgeous and lyrical "Will You Come With Me Where I Go." This is where the aforementioned Jeff Buckley emerges in Kearns' voice and he feels like he's putting everything he has into this song. I'm not talking about belting it out a la "BabopbyeYa" but rather settling into a beatific rhythm and letting everything you have to say gel into one perfect little tune. Every time I play it for other people, they ask "Who is that? It's good."
Indeed it is.