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Mad At Gravity – Resonance

Best Modern Rock Album

The following was originally published in our Debut section. 

Review by Keavin Wiggins

 It’s a little bit strange to be writing a review for a CD months after it was released, but once I heard the debut from “Mad At Gravity” I knew that it was worthy of attention, even if it is a bit delayed! 

Strangely this band is billed as local Orange County heroes by their record company, but I live in O.C. and I don’t recall seeing them burning up the local music scene and contrary to popular belief the O.C. music scene is actually pretty small with only a handful of notable venues where you can watch local talent. What usually happens is an O.C. band treks 30 minutes north to Hollywood to make a name for themselves and get noticed. Then I did a little research and actually read the entire bio supplied by their record company like I should have done from the get-go (ok my mistake) and learned that this band created a buzz for themselves first online not in the clubs! Now that got my attention, since it was a solid example of a band utilizing the web to find success and the story goes even deeper as Mad at Gravity signed to ARTISTdirect Records, the new label put together by Ted Field (co-founder of Interscope Records) and ARTISTdirect.com (the Yahoo of online music).  After that I began asking around town about them and sure enough, once the started hitting the local clubs they were an immediate hit. Guess, I've been spending too much time in L.A., Ok, that's enough on my mistakes let's get back to the band! 

You’d expect a lot of hype touting the band’s discovery online and signing to a label started by a leading online music company but it hasn’t happened that way, the buzz created by Mad At Gravity has been based on the music and after listening to their debut album I can understand why. 

Musically, Mad At Gravity has a progressive alternative rock vibe. Don’t get the wrong idea, the music isn’t overly progressive or technical in nature and doesn’t quite reach the level of progression we hear from Tool, instead they lean more towards the Incubus and A Perfect Circle approach of producing melodic songs with a progressive undercurrent. Even Maynard Keenan knows there can only be one Tool and Mad At Gravity seem content to look towards Keenan’s side project for inspiration and ultimately they have been successful in that quest and at the same time create their own distinctive feel. 

There is a lot of love with Mad At Gravity’s debut, “Resonance,” and the title for the CD is perfect because the music really does resonate. This is one of those albums where you are hooked from the first listen and the affinity only grows with each subsequent spin of the disc. The songwriting is strong and musicianship is solid throughout. Only a couple a tracks on the album have worn thin with time, but overall the album is constantly good with accessible and melodic songs and exceptional production. Speaking of the production, this is one of those albums you want to listen to with the headphones on so you won’t miss any of the tiny nuances that make up the songs and there are a lot layers to the overall sound on most of the tracks. 

The secret weapon in the Mad At Gravity arsenal is the rhythm section. Drummer Jake Fowler’s approach to drums is anything but conventional, just when you think he is going to take a traditional route he throws you a curb ball and accents his playing with the unconventional. Bassist Ben Froehlich follows suit with some interesting changeups in his chops as well. You’re listening and expect him to go one place and he goes in an entirely different direction. 

J. Lynn Johnston is a strong frontman, although his voice isn’t exceptionally distinctive, he has a strong sense of melody and isn’t afraid to stretch his vocal chords to their limits and do the unexpected vocally from time to time. 

The band’s multi-layered sound on most of the songs can be attributed in part to the duel guitar and keyboard lineup of James Lee Barlow and Anthony “Bosco” Boscarini. Back to the headphone idea, if you listen closely you can hear far more going on under the surface with the guitars and keyboards on this album than initially meets the ear. That can be said with the vocals as well, Johnston effective utilized multi-tracking to give the vocals far more depth than the traditional single-track approach would have produced, and when mixed with the backing vocals it has incredible sonic results. 

Mad At Gravity has a lot to offer judicious rock fans with their debut, “Resonance,” and even more for the casual listener. This bodes well not only for the listening public but also for the reputation of the new ARTISTdirect record label as it is apparent that their A&R department knows exactly what they are doing. They are worthy of quite a bit of praise for giving the world Mad At Gravity as this is definitely a band that has major potential and has produced one of the standout releases of this year! 


CD Info 

Mad At Gravity – Resonance 
Label: ARTISTdirect
Rating: 
 
Tracks:
Primer 
Walk Away 
Historypeats 
Time And Time Again 
Find The Words 
Run For Cover 
Burn 
Coalescence 
Letter To Myself 
This Collison 
In Vain 
Kerosene 
Say It 
Undefined
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