Odds & Ends is a recurring column where I cover short releases and albums I wasn’t able to commit enough time to for a full-length review.
Band: Custard Flux | Album: Echo | Genre: Psychedelic rock, folk rock | Bandcamp
Custard Flux has a neat little gimmick. With the exception of one electric guitar solo, all instrumentation is acoustic. This band’s particular blend of psychedelic pop and folk rock with progressive leanings results in something unique. Despite being almost all acoustic, the music is bombastic and impactful, and there’s a nice mix of the straightforward and the weird.
Band: The Dry Mouths | Album: Memories from Pines Bridge | Genre: Psychedelic rock | Bandcamp
The Dry Mouths are a Spanish group who play an instrumental, jam band variety of psychedelic rock. Stylistically, the sound palette in use is closely aligned with many desert rock acts, but the playing is more adventurous than the typical band in that genre. For example, occasional post rock-style bombast and noisy experimentation sneak in here and there. Like many other instrumental groups in this vein, there are moments I wish they would have trimmed things down a bit, but it’s a strong album overall.
Band: Emberside | Album: Starborn | Genre: Progressive rock, Math rock, Post Hardcore | Bandcamp
Emberside is a one-man project from New York. On this latest release, mastermind Nick Cereola has put out a massive, sprawling work. Clocking in at over 70 minutes and packed to the brim with tight, complex, energetic riffs and catchy melodies, Starborn is a lot to take in, but it’s well worth it. The songs are complexly structured with tons of musical ideas, and they draw from a wide variety of musical influences. Punky flavors permeate this work in its punchy, kinetic nature, and math rock-style weirdness is plentiful.
Band: Farmhouse Odyssey | Album: Fertile Ground | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp
Farmhouse Odyssey’s style of progressive rock is firmly rooted in the 1970s. Genesis is the most obvious influence, but flavors of Camel and Yes are obvious, as well as some more modern twists. These guys are jazzier than most of their contemporaries in the retro-prog scene. Fertile Ground is fairly light and highly melodic. As would be expected, the instrumental skill is fantastic, and the songs are well-constructed.
Band: The Odious | Album: Vesica Piscis | Genre: Progressive metal, Death metal | Bandcamp
These Portlanders play an ambitious and immensely heavy variety of metal. There’s pummeling, scathing death metal riffs and growls, but these are contrasted against light, clean, melodic moments. Hints of funk and jazz arise over the course of the album, and the deployment of those influences is always tactful and effective. Their overall mold could be compared to turn-of-the-century Opeth, but that would be an oversimplification. This album is highly ambitious and a resounding success.
Artist: Joona Samuel | Album: The Act of Disintegration | Genre: Jazz fusion, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
The debut EP from this Finnish musician is a mix of jazz and progressive rock where jazz is almost always the dominant element. Though the rock elements, particularly in the bass playing, help keep these instrumental pieces rooted. Less-disciplined playing could have easily allowed these songs to veer off into an unfocused morass of gentle guitars, sax, and electric piano. Samuel plays around with a lot of contrasts of quiet with loud and aggressive with gentle.
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