The four members of Mister Pagoda are all from San Francisco, but the band formed while Ray Levé (vocals, songwriting) and Lucas Hanson (bass, production) were studying at NYU in 2012. Guitarist, Gus Callahan, and drummer, Karl Straube, completed the quartet in the summer of 2012. Together, they've created a sound in their EP Beyond The Watch that combines techno beats, big guitars, and funky bass tones without being another quasi-disco band. It sounds truly cinematic. Each of the songs would fit equally well within the confines on a movie.
At times, I'm reminded of the good pop music that came out in the 90's, not so much in sound but in feel. There's something about the mix of acoustic and electric drums that brings back memories of Pop by U2. And all of that, with the exception of the drums, was recorded at home on a $70 microphone using software that they may or may not have purchased.
Beyond The Track starts strong with the title track, “Beyond The Watch,” a song about a relationship that seems to be on the brink of destruction. It's followed by "Oh Generation,” the biggest sounding song of the four tracks, with a driving drum beat and a synth flute that almost sounds like a low set of pan-pipes. The lyrics move a bit quickly to make out what the song is really about, but the moments that I can figure out seem to be speaking about disillusionment and confusion in an emergency. With "The Sea Is My Brother,” we get a hip-hop drumbeat, with guitars that definitely feel like something out of a U2 record in the 90's. The final, and most dancy track of the EP is "Running To The Rally.” It features a wobbly bass tone that suits the tone of the song perfectly as Levé sings fuzzy vocals that are reminiscent of early Muse records. It even has a full on, dance music breakdown before the song comes to its conclusion.
Overall, the band has made a very strong case for paying attention to them. This is an incredible debut and I can't wait to see what they come up with next. They've also managed to create a sound that leaves aspiring musicians without any excuse as to why they haven't begun recording their own music yet. If these guys can make something this amazing happen with cheap equipment and, perhaps, trial versions of recording software and plugins, then there really isn't anything stopping you from starting.
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