Friday, May 18, 2018

Record Review:
His Name Is Alive
"Black Wings"
(Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)

$20 //
Edition of 500 // //

One thing people need to know about me is that just because I'm such a big advocate for physical media in regards to music, I have never been opposed to digital music.  I enjoy the fact that people in any country can hear music from any other country.   When I first began writing about music, with AOL and all that being the norm at the time, it felt nearly impossible to get access to music outside of the United States unless it was a major label.   So being big on physical media (as I am) doesn't mean I am anti-digital.    In fact, I often enjoy instances such as with this record when I can hear a song such as "Energy Acceleration" prior to hearing the entire record.

If you follow me on SoundCloud (and if you don't, you should) I gave the song "Energy Acceleration" a "like" and "repost" before I got this double LP.   That happens to be the second song on here, so once I pressed play and heard the lines "In light of creation / send your light to this location" lines I thought, "Yeah! That's familiar! I remember that!" and there was no going back from that point.  I was in.   If you have not had a similar experience with me as this, I still feel there are a lot of ways in which you can find yourself getting wrapped up in this double LP.

The thing, for me, about this being a double LP is that you have to think as each side as their own little album in a way, and yet, you might not want to take them as EPs on their own though.   It doesn't really make sense, but it's one of those things where each of the four sides could stand on its own and each of the two records could stand on their own, but they just feel so much better together.   I suppose it's like a good series of films in that way, but I can't think of one right now except for maybe Kevin Smith's "Clerks".

Side A has a rather light feel to it.   It's angelic with a large focus on the harmonies.   It's like the deserts miss the rain.   There is a feeling of Fleetwood Mac and maybe even Blondie in here (maybe even a tad bit of Enya) but it just has that overall vibe of being something focused mostly on the vocals as they sing with oooh's and ahhhh's behind them, often in place of instruments of other function.     In that sense, there is a certain feel of Wilson Phillips in here as well, which isn't a bad thing at all.

On the flip side (which is B) things start off in a distorted video game way.   Eventually, about halfway through, there are vocals which I believe to be in French, but this is just dreamy.   There are pianos and then for the first time on the record it just kicks into this loud rock like The White Stripes or Hendrix reaching for that higher ground.   There is this killer guitar solo which takes Side B to its end but what you have to understand is that it is quite different from Side A in the sense that it is louder but it also has more of the video game feel overall versus the lighter rock side of what was previously heard.

C just opens up and lets it all hang out with some psych-classic rock.   Big drums come smashing in and that distorted video game feel returns, but mostly, this is just loud and banging like The Who.  (Which at times, I also think of this as being a concept album not too much unlike "Tommy", so, there's also that)   A feeling of a triumphant "Double Dragon" takes us into loud thrash punk followed by these organ tone loops which are eerie, like something out of "The X-Files".    Really loud, wicked guitar riffs can be heard as well and I don't mean wicked in the New England way but rather a little evil.

This takes us back into that wild rock feel as most of C is instrumental.    These tones like a video game are still in here and then the singing does return but only for a little bit.  Darker pianos and only the pianos take over before a classical guitar riff, like something out of Beethoven.     Big rocking guitars continue on Side D while there is this steady rhythm and I'm thinking of the Veruca Salt song "Seether".   Bits of Tom Petty take us into synths with vocals and more of a nice rock feel I can't quite put my finger on but would likely be somewhere along the lines of The Cardigans perhaps.

Acoustic strums and singing which remind me of Foo Fighters bring about a somewhat video game somewhat not loop to end it all on, which really does cement those Who comparisons in my mind, which is not a bad thing at all.    In many ways I feel like they used up a lot of the vocals on Side A and thus the other three sides don't have as many of them and are more instrumental, but yet, even when it's just the piano keys it's still speaking and it has this way where the music just takes control. 

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