Acoustic does not need to be synonymous with simplistic or unoriginal, and bands do not necessarily need to share a common musical preference in order to create a free-flowing, well-constructed album. Quite to the contrary, on their self-titled debut Aquadeer unites various influences in a pleasant layering of four-part harmonies and variety of instruments, and it sounds entirely, utterly natural, despite the fact that each of the four members come from distinctly different backgrounds. Deriving inspiration from indie acoustic singer-songwriters, world music---particularly that which is found in the Balkan mountain ranges and North India---and smooth jazz, the quartet was conceived in 2010 through the California Institute of the Arts, a conservatory that celebrates diversity in music and encourages musicians of all different backgrounds to collaborate.
Aquadeer embraced the challenge. The band was determined to craft a record that would stand the test of time and successfully blend what is essentially an entire spectrum of genres from every corner of the world. Seemingly an impossible feat, they do a pretty decent job at narrowing down the best qualities of each genre and fusing them in a very solid and deeply melodic album. Aquadeer has a unique sound, to be certain, and the harmonies are whimsical and light-hearted; despite the sometimes introspective and tragic lyrics, the music itself is the equivalent of a drive down a long, rural stretch of road at dusk, when the final rays of sun are dying. Rough, melancholic, and hauntingly imperfect vocals telling darkly poetic stories are so eerily reminiscent of Elliott Smith that it's almost as if he is temporarily reincarnated in the form of the track "The Scale." The comparison is likely to always be drawn in critiques of the band's music, but simply because lead vocalist Dylan Rodrigue's voice is uncannily similar. It's unlikely that with the band's diverse array of influences, they set out intentionally to copy Smith's style. It just so happens that it works amazingly well.
"In the Eye," lyrically as well as musically, sounds like a lost track on a Local Natives album yet to be realized, incorporating religious symbolism, repetition, and the sort of laid-back yet mildly jaded West Coast wistfulness present in so much of California's independent music scene. This track's swelling positivity provides a perfectly ironic segue into the next song, entitled "Fucking Freak," which---unsurprisingly---takes a slightly more pessimistic approach. Now on completely the other side of the coin, the guitar is rawer, Rodridgue's voice quavers more with a sudden strain and fervour, and the riffs remain lodged permanently in your brain long after the song ends. For those who value lyrics above music, this is the song to pay close attention to, and the song that personally sold me on this band: "I've been asleep so long that I've lost my memories" is only a small taste of the beautifully fragmented one-liners present here.
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