Pop music is a funny thing. It soundtracks every moment of our lives - the triumphs, the pitfalls, the platitudes, the failings. We listen to pop music when we're depressed; we make it when we're angry or sometimes, even, feeling happy. It's a complex situation, which sometimes leaves us listening to super sugary music when we're at our lowest, or we end up listening to raw and terrible rock n' roll when we're feeling great.
R Is For... Art by the Minneapolis duo My Name Is Ellipsis, comprised of brothers Garrett and Jason McComb, perfectly encapsulates this complex layer cake of emotions with an acerbic mixture of poppy vocals, crunchy-but-infectious guitars and banging drums, while describing some of life's lowest moments and worst people.
Things kick off with "Don't Look Down,” an homage to mindless platitudes with the mindless refrain "You can't be happy when you're looking down." In practically the same breath, the singer solves his own problem, with the refrain "I'm done with everyone."
This lack of giving a toss is a large part of what makes R Is For... Art such a successful outing. While there will always be a place for sharp, well-written and arranged guitar-centric rock n’ roll, it's not exactly topping the charts. While certain bands, like The Arcade Fire, Band Of Horses, or My Morning Jacket will always grab some column inches, mostly due to their prior achievements, hip-hop, R&B and electronica seem to speak more to society's current pulse.
But that's the thing about being a music fan in 2016 - there's something for everyone, and every band has a potential audience just waiting to adore them. Rather than considering what's "in" at the moment, it's more productive to consider the artist's vision and decide if the recording and musicianship is up to the task of pulling it off.
In the case of My Name Is Ellipsis, they have the musicianship, which has been expertly mixed by engineer Aaron Baum and then mastered by Huntley Miller, who's cut grooves for big name artists like The Bad Plus and The Tallest Man On Earth. Miller's mastering job really brings out the rumbling low end of Garrett McComb's wall-of-fuzz grunge guitars, while the drums sparkle like a vampire in sunlight, as you can hear on album closer “Medicine."
Solid songwriting, great musicianship, loving recorded, polished and spruced... now that's in. And always will be.
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