Andy Latham is an indie-rock artist recording in Chicago. Given his own side-business, which creates guitar pedals, Latham clearly has a deep love for music. He’s been a songwriter for more than a decade and recently built a home studio to try and create higher-quality music. Joining the growing world of independent home-musicians, given the affordable nature of music software, Latham has recorded, programmed and released an album to showcase his work entitled Dearest Automation.
Dearest Automation is a ten-track release and it opens with a rather unique track entitled “The Advance.” Softly played piano notes, acoustic guitar and jazzy, stylistically-lazy drumming all combine to create a folky, intricately rhythmed piece. Latham’s vocals drone in a spacey, psychedelic manner, washing over the complex multi-layered mash of instruments. The chorus boasts a Muse-esque bass buzz and sliding, reverberating guitar which floats off into the deepest depths of the cosmos.
Almost as if written, sung and performed by a different artist, “Surrounded by the Sound of the Rain” is a garage-rock anthem driven by a loud-quiet dynamic and heartfelt, powerful, but soothing vocals from Latham. A gentle, simplistic, guitar arpeggio supports Latham’s nostalgic lyrics, which pose questions such as, “If I turn my head, will you be there?” Meaty power chords tear through the chorus and add a dimension to Latham’s music unseen on the opener. Some may not like such diversity within a single album, but personally I find it adds scope for greater exploration and avoids falling into the trap of creating ten scarcely-separable, dull tracks, all for the sake of a good flow.
“A Quick Silver” is another intriguing track. A catchy bass rhythm, matched by a synth organ, progresses the track onwards. This song boasts alien synth patterns, crashing drums and occasional bursts of quietly-chugging guitar in the verses and explosive chords in the chorus. Latham’s vocals drone into the furthest reaches of this spacey, alien track, but the highlight of this track is the several different, catchy, simultaneous synth and guitar patterns. Layering and production seem to serve Latham well on this release.
This is truly an epic display of Andy Latham’s efforts. His programming knowledge and experience with sound quality, along with guitar pedals, is quite evident on this album. Musically, I found the diverse songwriting to be the most interesting aspect of Dearest Automation. With everything from garage rock to psychedelia, this release has something for all lovers of independent rock music.
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