CD Review: Luke Hunter - Dizzying Heights

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Luke Hunter, drummer of the band Thick Thieves, has released his first self recorded/produced solo record -  quite ambitious for a young man.  Dizzying Heights has a mellow, ambient sort of vibe without being too spacey.  Like the Thick Thieves, the sound of the record is definitely more rooted in "classic rock" or even early "alternative" rather than the indie rock which most his peers are playing.  Unlike the Thick Thieves it doesn’t have that folky southern rock thing going on.  

The layers and textures are what make the record what it is.  The reverb and delay are caked on this record... it’s what gives it the ambient sort of feel but it can be a little much.  About halfway through the record they stop being a texture and almost become a whole other instrument.  The instrumentation is nothing out of the ordinary: guitar, bass, drums and keys - but everything is fattened up and aired out to make it sound like much more.  The song writing is almost post rock-esque at points, it just moves from one thing to another in a constant stream, never turning around to remind you what the chorus was. This can be a difficult style to make work but Luke does a good job making sure you don’t get bored or confused as the songs drift along.  

Most people would probably consider this an incredibly melancholy record, especially with the Radiohead cover at the end.  I don’t see it that way.  Mellow and melancholy, though containing a lot of the same letters, are not intrinsically linked.  I would say that it's introspective - a thinker - rather than just writing it off as sad.  This record shows a great deal of promise... Luke wears his influences on its sleeve but his influences are not common in this area of CT and it's his debut so that’s more than forgivable.  I'd like to see this be a continuing project for Luke to see the path it heads down.
Dizzying Heights is available for purchase at The Mystic Disc in downtown Mystic, CT.

CD Review: Sodium Lights - Post Signal

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Post Signal has a familiar indie sound of 90's bands like Polvo with electronic influences like Massive Attack.  There are also occasional poppy, almost Paul Simon-esque, tunes on the record: "Thimble" and "His Father’s Father". The change from indie song to pop song is pretty hard to swallow within one album.  The production of this record is completely radio ready -  it's slick as black ice but the genre of music calls for it so I can't hold it against them.  

The musicianship matches up perfectly with the production, it's very tight and calculated without sounding forced or like it was cut and pasted in the studio.  I never thought I would hear a record like this come from South Eastern CT.  Not that it’s completely outside the realm of what's going on in the area, but the electronic elements along with atmospheric, almost spacey, texture of the songs certainly puts them in a class of their own.   

Post Signal can get a little sleepy at times for the average listener but if you put a little more effort into your listening there are tons of new layers to discover within the tracks.  This is a very dense record disguised as an airy ambient piece.  The good thing about studio bands is that they are completely committed and focused to making sure that the songs that they write sound as good as they can sound when they go on record.  This is where a lot of live bands go wrong.  They forget to add little bits of keyboard or maybe some extra guitar tracks to add thickness and atmosphere because they don't want to be untrue to what they sound like when they play out.  

Sodium Lights have taken all of these "frills" and made them sound absolutely vital.  The art of creating a record is not even on the same plane of existence.  While a live show runs on adrenaline your record must run on maintaining interest through artistry... and Post Signal most certainly does that.

Post Signal by Sodium Lights is available for purchase at The Mystic Disc in downtown Mystic, CT.

CD Review: The Weird Beards - EP

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

One of the many things for purchase during Hygienic's opening weekend was The Weird Beards debut EP... a 4 song ditty with the old lineup, the lineup that included OB on mandolin and does not include their current drummer.  The production team on this record is a veritable who's who of New London music. The recording itself was done by Hugh Birdsall of The Reducers and was mixed and mastered by Paul Brockett of the Paul Brockett Roadshow. 

For such organic instrumentation; baritone ukulele, standup bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin and percussion, there is quite a bit of studio trickery. There are some backwards vocals and also vocals with digitally manipulated pitches.  There is a cool loop intro at the beginning of "Patriot Act" as well as some ping pong panning on the ukulele and mandolin.  These kinds of things work well with The Weird Beards' psychedelic gypsy nature.  

The songs on the EP; "With a Lime", "Weird Beard", "Patriot Act", and "Beautiful Eyes" are super clever lyrically and all the songs are completely different topics. This gives you a really good view of the pallet that Brian Skidmore, lead singer and baritone uke, is working with to paint the landscapes of his songs.  The canvas of this record is the three musicians who are able to keep Brian’s dreamlike visions afloat with their expressive riffing. 

While not exactly a sing along record there are a bunch of gang vocals that add a little bit of fullness that can sometimes seem lacking with an all acoustic band.  This is no singer songwriter pop BS either… the instrumentation and song structure removes it quickly from that category.  This not your average folk -  The Weird Beards may actually be from outer space somewhere, but the songs are easy to listen to for the educated musical ear.  For anyone who has seen them live you know Brian’s vocal acrobatics and the jammy-ness of some of the songs can lead to them lasting a while.  Both of those things have been pretty much cut out… leaving the real gold of the songs to shine in three minute intervals.  This is a super worth-while record for the alt-folk enthusiast.

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