Are You Important?
OK, I am going to ruin the result of this review immediately: The album is beautiful, allbeit not in a classic Post Rock fashion. Let me digress: As most people who know me already know, music has been a key part of my life so far. Its more than a hobby, its something that belongs in my life. It can change my moods, and it transports me to specific moments in the past, I connect some albums to times in the past, in so far that when I hear them now, I am immediately forced to reflect on those times. As you can imagine, this is a great feeling! Anyway, just for the record, those albums are The Joshua Tree (U2), Seven (James), The Las (The Las), Stone Roses (Stone Roses).
So imagine my utmost joy when I get to hear a preview of an album that, on the second listen, gives me the exact same feeling, even though I have just received the album. I have immediately connected to the album, each track is a jewel in itself, and the album as a whole reminds me of good times from the past. It has basically become a very personal album to me, within 1 hour of listening.
So what is the album? Its called “We’re important and we keep the city running. We’re important, we’re important, we’re important…” by a band from London called eaststrikewest (Facebook | Twitter | Big Cartel | MySpace). The guys have been together for a while, and their debut album, Wolvves, was critically acclaimed. They are not your standard Post Rock set up, nor is their music easily definable. There are definitely Post Rock elements, as there are Indie, Alt and Prog elements. They use vocals very intensely (yes, I do listen to music with vocals). There is no definitive release date yet planned, nor are they on a label, but mark my words, if you have a similar music taste to me, then you are really going to enjoy this album.
Here’s a blow by blow run down:
Bless! What starts atmospherically, is changed after 30 seconds to a monotonous drum beat and a typical eaststrikewest guitar sound. Tones adapt swiftly and the drum beat turns into a thunderous metronome forcing you to listen. The melody stays in the background until the chugging guitars begin to lead the way forward. This is a foot tapping monster of a track, and I can’t think of a single band that I could compare it to, and the only word that explains it is “Anthem”. Watch out for the first public airing of this track next week on Fade to Yellow. The atmospherics return towards the end of the track, leading into track 2.
Twisting Muscles begins as an easily recognisable ESW track, light guitars and the vocals that fans have learnt to love. That lasts for approximately 40 seconds until the full band joins in in a monumental fashion. The build up is effective, but the track is full of surprises and as rapidly as the build up appeared, so it disappears again. This song is probably one of my favourites as it perfectly shows the vocal skills of the band in combination with epicness, strings, and a somehow happy feeling. It is also the most reminiscent of Wolvves.
The Outsider is a fast track, with a strong pounding beat, a Post Rock sounding guitar and a focus on vocals. The track reminds me of early 90s indie from the UK, and while it’s not a song that will make airplay, it is a great lead into the rest of the album where the band gets comfortable musically.
Must Not Sleep, Must Warn Others starts again with drums and percussion, and a somehow dark sounding guitar picking out the melody. The vocal strengths are used again, the lyrics taking over from the music, while at the same time not being too overpowering. The “chorus” is cut short after 2 chants, and the listener gets the feeling that the tempo is picking up, although it’s actually not. A break towards the end pulls me in before chaos breaks loose, strings, vocals, guitars, bass and drums all over the place in a perfect cacophony that leads the song out.
Waking From Comas is the first of two slower track on the album, almost ballad like. A single guitar leads in with vocals joining, overlaying a simple melody. Bass, percussions and drums join in later, however you can hear the emotions dripping from the vocals and lyrics, and that’s what makes this track stand out.
Marionettes stays in the eaststrikewest ballad style, vocal acrobatics included. The higher tones towards the end of each line make this tune catchy and emotional at the same time, and the strings which come in about half way through to take the track to another epic height only underline the fact that eaststrikewest have their own definitive style.
Red Sun is my second contender for favourite track. It’s one of those tracks that makes you feel like jumping up and down and screaching. A bar of strings leads the way for a fast beat, a fat bass line and a feeling of pure energy. Shortly later the rest of the band joins in, and a smile is on your face immediately. By the time the vocals join, your pulse is faster, your mood is better, and you are standing on top of the world. The one word to define this track is FUN, which isn’t exactly a standrad for the genre. I can imagine this track getting airplay on the radio, as it is catchy, memorable and easily hummable, down to the christmassy bell-like melody at the end 🙂
With One Last Breath is the third contender for best track. A return to a Wolvves-like track, this one is another upbeat track that will improve your mood when listening. Also another contender for airplay, Last Breath is a strings-loaded, extremely catchy track. A chanting vocal line is joined once again by a Post Rock guitar, and takes the listener on a winding road. The emphasis in the vocals increases, strings join back in, and the guitars take a back row. Standrad Post Rock terms (epic, monumental etc) spring to mind, and a rapid decrease in rhythm and volume leads the track and album out.
Summary: I’m not going to give this marks out of ten, but there isn’t much to say beyond what I have already written really, eaststrikewest have created a fantastic second album. If you like your music to be non-commercial and interesting, then this needs to be in your collection. To describe the album in three words: Epic, Joyous, Thunderous.