Violent Sunrise is the debut EP from indie-alternative rock quartet Mystic Time Machine. The band is fronted by lead singer and songwriter Ricia Rae (who also plays keys), and includes Mark Baldwin (guitars), Georg Nikodym (bass, and Maggie Panko (drums). Scott Cook produced the album and added some of his instrumental talents.
The title track kicks us off. It’s straight-ahead minor-key rock, driven by an indie-flavored double-stop guitar riff and growly, moving bass. Rae’s vocals float over the top; their range, depth and harmonies recall Annie Lennox or Siouxsie Sioux. There’s a little more edge in Mystic Time Machine’s guitars, though, as if Dave Stewart kept his taste but took a couple of lessons from Joe Trohman.
“I’m Not Thinking” keeps the minor-key rock feel going, but adds some synths. Cook’s production work shines here; there’s a lot built in here. It adds up to a well-formed whole, but you can pick out the individual parts, too. I particularly liked the gritty guitar underneath, which was just enough to give the track some edge and tension.
“The Reason” is the poppiest of the tracks. Mystic Time Machine layers in some radio-friendly percussion (tambourine and congas) as well as palm-mute guitar and clear keyboard tones. They keep the chorus interesting, moving toward prog-rock territory with shifting meter and accents. On the outro, they go with the full pop arrangement, including a quick, tight ending.
Lest you think they went soft, the final track, “Moral Injury” brings us back with a heavy riff and lyric. The dreamy--dare I say mystical?--middle section offers good contrast between the heavy sections, and makes them stand out more. It’s a nice cap to the set.
Violent Sunrise is a solid debut. The underlying pop sensibilities of the arrangements, combined with Rae’s smooth vocals, will appeal to a broad audience, while the grit underneath will satisfy those looking for a bit more edge. Give it a spin!
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