Tyler Harris (guitars, saxophone), Maci Hayes (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Cody Kraus (percussion) and John Michael Porten (bass) make up Challenger Deep. They released their self-titled album Challenger Deep back in 2014, which showcases a blend of funk and rock. Musically they often times end up sounding like a jam band that you would hear on a college campus. On their Bandcamp page they claim to blend trip hop style bass and drums, which I guess you could make a case for. That being said trip hop is usually considered electronic music and there aren’t electronic elements in the music.
The music doesn’t contain many catchy hooks and choruses but instead relies on repetitive grooves, which you can picture a drunken hippie dancing to. Some of it works; some of it goes on too long but overall I found they had some talent. In all honesty this is the type of music that works best listened to in a live situation. I’ve never seem them live but I am willing to bet there's a lot more energy in that room. In fact that’s what the band was trying to do was to capture what they sounded like live. From an aesthetic perspective the recording sounds like a slightly above average demo.
The most unique aspect of their music is when they implement the saxophone. It adds a unique dynamic that gives the songs a jazzy vibe that differentiates the band from a surplus of other bands that sound similar. Even though the saxophone is the x factor that gave the band a bit of an edge it’s obvious that everyone in the band is a technically proficient musician.
The first song “Voices” displays the band’s talents. The guitars slip and slide while the Kraus drumming style is loose and free. Hayes’ vocals are powerful and she displays an impressive dynamic range. “If You Please” was only about two minutes long but was one of the highlights. The horn work was exceptional. Not every song was a homerun but there were also no duds.
Overall, Challenger Deep is an enjoyable release. I do hope the quality of the recording is improved with their next release. Until then Challenger Deep is worth a listen.
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