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Tag: Peregrine

Sunjacket: Weighty, thoughtful, inventive, unique

sunjacket-mantra-cover-digital

For a person who came of age on OK Computer, it’s hard for me not to jump straight to Radiohead’s magnum opus when describing rock led by minor-key distorted guitars that is intended to be taken seriously by thoughtful people. Sunjacket‘s Mantra is that sort of weighty, thoughtful, inventive, unique music. Each song of Mantra packs its own punch, but the main elements of the sound remain the same: distorted guitars, electronic keys/synths, complex percussion, and Carl Hauck and Bryan Kveton’s confident voices.

Opener “Grandstanders” shows off these elements perfectly: lush synths open the track before being set to rhythm with a complex percussion line and heavily manipulated guitar sounds. The resulting landscape bears much in common with The Appleseed Cast’s excellent Peregrine. But instead of just barreling through this mood, the band plays with space and minimalism, progressively dropping everyone out all the way down to single snare hits after the chorus before pounding back in with the full band. It’s a head-turning move, the sort of thing that announces an album. And there is much to announce.

The skittering percussion and staccato synths of “Dissolve It” float a soulful vocal line from Hauck; the fusion is disorienting in the best way. “Not Enough” starts with clanging piano before being sandblasted by a wall of fuzzed-out synth. The song then pulls back into patterned, complex mid-tempo work like “Grandstanders.” “Alligator” feels something like a mix between Bon Iver’s current work, The National, and a heart-rate monitor (this is a compliment). The title track takes all the elements of this paragraph and somehow synthesizes them.

But my award for the most fascinating track goes to “Tongue,” which starts off like a lost MIA track full of digital sounds before being accosted by multitracked trumpet and thunderous bass synth. Right about the time it starts to really feel like a mid-’00s Radiohead track, a vocal line modulated down two or three octaves mourns its way through the landscape. It’s weird and fascinating and the perfect break between the icy, stomping electro of “Habit” and the punchy, catchy rock of “No One’s Around You.”

Mantra is the rare “smart” rock album that isn’t hard to get. It’s weird, it’s quirky, it’s got a unique point of view, but it’s not grueling or punishing. You can listen to it through and hear the guitars and synths and take it at face value. (And its face value is great.) But for those who want to spend more time with their albums, Sunjacket has created an album full of nooks and crannies for listeners to explore. Brilliant stuff here. Highly recommended.

Sunjacket is about to head out on tour–if you’re near them, definitely endeavor to go to a show of theirs.

IC Faves: Josh Caress/Appleseed Cast

First things first: IC fave Josh Caress‘s new project Come On Pilgrim! has released its first single. “The Region of the Summer Stars” is a growth and continuation of the path toward Arcade Fire-style indie rock that he’s been following since rebooting his sound for Josh Caress Goes On An Adventure! I was incredibly excited for the album, and now I’m even more stoked. Caress’ vocals have a confidence that comes from being comfortable with your backing band, which is a big step forward.

The Appleseed Cast, another IC favorite, released Middle States EP last month. It is a true EP, in that is marking time between two major releases: 2009’s Sagarmatha and 2012’s promised album. The 28-minute EP contains only four tracks and three real songs, as “Interlude” is exactly that. Of the three realized songs, “Three Rivers” is a 14-minute, simplistic post-rock tune that stretches out too far even for a fan of post-rock, minimalism and Appleseed Cast, leaving “End Frigate Constellation” and “Middle States” as the treasures here. The former shows off the band’s churning composition skills and incredible drumming, while the latter sounds vital and oceanic. The first is Peregrine, while the second is Mare Vitalis. It’s not really a full release, nor is it supposed to be. But man, am I ever excited for the next Appleseed album.