Anthony Presti’s latest album Existentialism is dripping with personal touches and pulls from several veins of music. He describes his work as indie/alt-rock. Presti grew up in Seattle in the ’90s, talk about right time, right place. His grungy upbringing came complete with joining a band that did Nirvana covers.
He has a broad lineup of influences that have shifted over the years. He is also an avid traveler having backpacked his way through Europe and Asia. Presti now lives in San Francisco which has also had a profound effect on his sound. The album touches on interesting subjects, from losing a friend to cancer, to Catholic school to forbidden love.
Presti puts himself in the category of indie rock so I was a little surprised when the first three tracks on the album had a very traditional Americana feel to them. These were nice songs but a little standard for Americana and certainly not what I would open with. It wasn’t until track four “Sweat it Out” that I became engaged. Finally, there was a solid indie/alt sound taking place. Beautiful riffs, strong lyrics and an added string element set this track apart from anything else on the album and I had found my favorite song. Following “Sweat it Out” was “One Step Closer” which included vocals from Leah Van Dyke that were fantastic.
Again, the song came with strong lyrics and a unique arrangement. Moving on down the track list, the music stayed in its alt rock zone and made for a decent listen. Even when the music was not particularly wowing, the lyrics across the album are truly excellent.
Existentialism was designed to unpack a lot of experience from Presti’s life, according to the submission. I found myself expecting a broader range of flavors considering how far he had traveled and the diverse subject matter. Presti’s vocals are good but did not win me over at all times. My other issue was the disconnect with the start of the album with traditional Americana being pushed up against the indie stuff. The songs did not feel connected and so the album flow was a little jarring for me.
On a technical level, this album was handled with great care. It was recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco and mastered by Bob Weston right in my back yard here in Chicago. This was a job well done, clean intimate feeling, especially on the vocals which helped highlight the fantastic lyrics.
Presti has great tools at his disposal to make great music. He has tremendous talent with the guitar and spins amazing lyrics. It seems the more cooks in the kitchen on his tracks, the better they are. I learned with this album that I am noticeably eager to hear more of his indie/alt side.
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