Algren, A WAYWARD SOUND FLOODS THE SREET – A Premier CD with a Good Attempt and the Potential for GrowthBy Agenda Magazine | July 17th, 2010 | Category: CD Reviews, Indie Hotspot | No Comments »
“Think-Rock for a modern audience rooted in introspective lyrics and dynamic songwriting.” –Algren, CD Baby–
If you like musical theater with a rocker’s edge, you might be tempted to purchase Algren. If you listen to a lot of Queen, Dream Theater, and Muse, you’ll probably be drawn to some of the music on this CD. The band was successful in creating a theatrical quality with their body of work. I could see them on stage with ambient lighting and maybe even a laser show. Some of the sounds are reminiscent of the moog keyboard and the first sci-fi movies. Full of trippy sounds and belting vocals, Algren has much to offer.
I saw real potential with track #6, “Chasing down a Ghost.” The mid-tempo song opens with an ominous bass line and builds with the drum and then guitar.
“Sitting here with our hands in our laps, a moment a loot in time,
Another day when we hang our heads, I told you we’d be just fine”
The best lyrics I heard on this CD. There are also some very nice changes chordally. This is by far the strongest song. The chorus featured that old familiar heavy guitar, as heard in every chorus of every song on this album, but it does work here, and I really wanted to keep listening until the bridge came in, where the extremely dissonant chords were not at all easy to listen to. With a few musical tweaks, this song could have real potential.
O.K., let’s get real about this attempt. I’m obligated to say that the musicianship is not good. Out-of-tune guitars, flapping snares, and reverberating kick drums with weak grooves and inconsistent rhythms are Algren’s mantra. It is clear this was not recorded with a single click track. The singer over-sings. He should stay in the mellow zone. His voice sounds best there. He has a serious problem staying in tune on occasion.
The production values are extremely low and define what has been wrong with a lot of indie bands throughout the years. If there were any mastering done, it was not by a professional. There is distortion throughout the entire CD. It could be the way it was recorded, or it could have been mixed that way. Technically, it is unacceptable.
Lyrically, there are some good things going on here—very deep, profound attempts. No real follow-through, however, musically. The chords are predictable and at times, experimental. But the choices made musically should be rethought. Sometimes the vocals clash with the underlying music. This is jarring to the listener. I could have done without the background vocals; they’re hit and miss and not tight. If this were 1962, it might be O.K. to record in that manner, but with Protools today and plugins like Auto Tune, there is just no excuse.
So, why then, you may wonder, did I decide to review this CD? For two reasons: 1) The promotional materials sucked me in. I was compelled to open the package, read the comic book that accompanied it, and listen to the well art-directed CD. I was curious more than anything and was hoping I would be pleasantly surprised. I expected this music to be as good as its packaging. This band did something right. They got my attention. Out of literally countless CDs, I opened theirs. 2) They were consistent with their sound. Even though Algren didn’t blow me away, I heard a really honest attempt and could see how if reworked with the right producer, this band could really put out some good music. But they need a producer, and real musicians, or at least practice the songs to a click track so there is a groove.
I give this CD only 2 1/2 stars. 2 is for the reasons I opened it to begin with and the ½ is for the potential for growth.
To learn more about Algren’s music, visit http://www.myspace.com/algrenmusic.
Reviewed by Sean McKenzie