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A Lonely Crowd - 2014 - "Transients"

(44:26, Bird's Robe Records)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:

1.  Intro 1:01
2.  Godamnesia 3:34
3.  Inspector 2:35
4.  Blur 2:57
5.  Kamikaze Karma 3:23
6.  The Fall 3:03
7.  Rapture 4:18
8.  Sound Tripper 2:35
9.  Blows & Arrows 4:46
10. Telephiles 3:16
11. Seeing Stars 4:11
12. Voodoo Tube 3:47
13. The Wanderer 5:00

LINEUP:

Luke Ancell  guitars 
David Morkunas  bass; keyboards
Xen Havales  vocals; flute; guitars; glockenspiel
Scott Ancell  drums, percussion; guitars; glockenspiel

Prolusion. The Australian band A LONELY CROWD has been a going concern since 2008 from their base in Melbourne. They came to some prominence following the release of their debut album "User Hostile", and were signed to the Australian label Bird's Robe Records for the release of their second studio effort "Transients", which surfaced at the start of 2014.

Analysis. After giving this album a few spins, I'm fairly certain that all the members of this Australian band know their jazz fairly well. It's not that this is a jazz band or a jazz rock band as such, but there's more than a few details from all instrumentalists and vocalist alike that the members here have played jazz, or at least studied how to play it, as details and facets of this genre are liberally encountered throughout this album. But the starting point when describing this album is probably alternative rock. Compact, harder edged riff movement with a foundation in alternative rock is a mainstay element, to some degree defining a core aspect of their sound. More often than not paired off with a lighter toned, frail theme or movement of some kind, creating dramatic dynamics in their short and to the point compositions. These alternating, contrasting patterns are both of a character and structure that invite the use of the word quirky, which is where the progressive elements of this band start surfacing. There's generally an odd development or arrangement at the core, both when they explore out from the harder edged, darker alternative rock foundation or when they wander into gentler territories of the kind that at least at times may be closer in sound to what one might expect from a band like Radiohead. Combined they sound like a sparse, non-flamboyant version of The Mars Volta I guess, and when you add unconventional maneuvers and a liberal amount of jazz-tinged and jazz-oriented instrumental details to that mix, the end result is undeniably progressive rock. The band is a tight one, too, and the icing on the allegorical cake are the vocals of Xen Havales, one of the most impressive female vocalists I have encountered in a while. A strong vocalist with pitch perfect control and a talent for all kinds and modes of delivery. That she provides occasional flute details to the compositions is a bonus feature, and her contributions also add a certain emphasis on the jazz associations I get from this band. If this lady doesn't have a side career in a jazz band of some kind she should enter that scene as she would fit tight in and most likley get tons of positive attention there from the get go.

Conclusion. Hard alternative rock combined with gentler light toned passages and with a liberal amount of more or less subtle jazz details thrown in for good measure are the main ingredients used on A Lonely Crowd's sophomore production "Transients". An impressive, quirky and fairly challenging affair, and a CD that documents that you can indeed make progressive rock even when exploring short-length compositions. While not all that similar in sound, my gut feeling is that this album should have a fairly strong appeal amongst those who enjoy the US band District 97. There are similarities in sound also beyond the fact that both bands feature some of the most skilled female lead vocalists in progressive rock, and while the similarities aren't all that strong and obvious there's still enough of them to conclude that both bands should appeal to a fairly similar audience.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 1, 2015
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Bird's Robe Records
A Lonely Crowd


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