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
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!
At Gravity – Resonance
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