Echo Lad’s debut album is a breath of fresh and yet nostalgic air. A power blend of genres stuffed into a neat, professional package. You don’t have to listen hard to hear the ska, grunge, indie rock and then some, it all comes to you on a platter. The mood varies from lively to sweet to unapologetically emo. There’s a well-rounded experience here that I feel deserves attention.
I’d like to start off by acknowledging that the bass and drums really steal the show in the music. They are given a lot of room and volume to narrate the story. Whimsical rhythm choices keep all of the tracks from being decidedly filed into a single genre category. I adored how the bass in particular really kept things aggressive and rebellious, even when things slow down. I would almost say these two elements are like two additional voices that work alongside the vocals.
The album starts off on firm footing with “Neon Tetra” which is a wonderful sampling of the band’s capabilities. The cool vibes keep coming with the second track, “There’s Gold in Them Hills.” Track three, “Chicken, Rice, and Some Kind of Vegetable,” brings more attention to the vocal elements which were a little hit or miss for me. For the most part, the vocals add a flightiness that I appreciated throughout the album. The strongest track for me vocally would have to be number five, “Bellow.” They are not afraid to let the instruments do the talking. “Goron” is a great, healthy sized track that lets the guitar go for walk around the block and it’s great grungy fun. I was really impressed overall with the arrangement of the varied tracks, all very well thought out.
The audio production for the album is right on the money. I swear it’s like they time traveled back to 1991 and bottled that magic for their own. When dealing with music that brings things like drums so front and center, it is so easy to sound like a loud mess. You’ll get none of that here. The audio has a seedy crunch to it that I found really satisfying. It dates the sound in a way, but I feel it’s a risk they are at liberty to take. Considering their music knows no defined genre, I see nothing wrong with them grounding themselves in a decade of the past, especially a decade I adore so much.
The replay value for me on this album was immediate, I had to have it. This is the kind of music I can take anywhere and break out for a slew of occasions. The songs on this album have been cultivated over six years and everything I heard sounded matured and ready for consumption. Echo Lad has been working together for seven years out of Philadelphia and I have no doubt they’re a wonderful piece of the great music scene there. They are definitely a band I’d love to see live, but for now I am happy to have this album be a part of my collection. Echo Lad has made a solid foundation to build upon with this album and I’d say anyone who buys will get their money’s worth.
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