Obscenery is a three-piece alt rock band from Victoria, British Columbia, founded in 2019 by Harrison Breeze (bass), Dan Borowiecki and Andrew Brown. The members of the group have a wide spectrum of musical tastes; everything from classical to heavy metal, jazz to punk, blues and progressive. As a result, their writing contains fusion elements from a wide variety of genres brought together in an undeniably catchy fashion. Their sophomore release Wired to Fail follows up last year’s album, Dedicated Cat Vacuum. Their first producer, Jon Epworth, was unavailable due to the pandemic, so Harrison took the reins this time around with mixing and mastering. The trio recorded the album live with overdubs, for that old-school raw rock sound, instead of using click tracks with each song which they did on their debut. They also rented a much larger room and took the time to write songs and make demos, spending the spring rehearsing once Covid restrictions in their area were lifted. They then moved on to recording in the summer. The album itself is a silly loose-concept sci-fi album taking place in the mid-20th century. They story tells of a group of fictional scientists who invent a radio which can pull signals from the future, but the device eventually becomes self-aware and turns homicidal. They used this idea as an opportunity to dabble in whichever style they wanted, which allowed the trio to experiment with different sounds and to pay tribute to the styles that inspire them.
The first track “Swing Around” starts off with a short introduction of “sci-fi speak” and then a raucous, live sound from something like the band that playedThe Munsters TV show theme song, pairing up with the Cramps, Franz Ferdinand and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. “One Day” slips further into the sci-fi wormhole with hints of a post-grunge/post-punk rock vibe. If there were tons more fuzz on the guitar, this song would kind of remind me of Filter’s “Nice Shot Man.” The second part to the song had a nice dynamic twist, which contrasted nicely with the overall flow. “Goodbye” lays down some more distorted, fuzzy noise in the beginning and a softer, acoustic rhythm. The trio’s live sound really comes through here, and it sounds fantastic, especially on the drums! Also, there was something about this one that reminded me of very early Bowie, where he would incorporate his Dylan acoustic influence with early fuzz guitar glam a la Ziggy Stardust. Overall, I liked this song’s melody and progression.
“Fragments” blew me away – as the trio sounds uncannily like the Beatles on records such as Rubber Soul or Revolver. The rhythm, the guitar (just a bit heavier) and vocal harmonies were all there. “Time Will Follow Through” carries on the spacey, radio signals narrative with a female saying some words, and also the Beatles-like sound – “Happiness is a Warm Gun” comes to mind (at least in the song’s beginning). There is also some definite ‘90s vibe in here, encased in the album’s conceptual narrative. The guitar solo was great as well. “Away” is quirky, tense and loud. Parts of it reminded me of Weezer, but much more in a garage rock, less poppy kind of way. Loved the tambourine and catchy guitar chords, too. “Out of the Blues” sounds very much like a traditional blues song with one of the familiar blues chord progressions as its base, but here, the trio also mixes in an alt-rock style – quite seamlessly in fact. The band truly sound like naturals here.
“WDYK” (short for “What Do You Know”) beings with more radio signals and then picks up with a super-fast punk beat – that if you’re listening, would be hard not to bob your head back and forth, or at least tap your feet to. This song was insane, and I loved every minute of it! The psychedelic waves and random distorted words bleed into “Wired to Fail” – a flowing, rumbling, drum-driven song with a light, guitar melody. Seems like here another one of the members takes lead on the vocals in this artsy – progressive/indie rock tune. The band’s concept story reaches full circle as the fictious radio goes completely mad, turning deadly on its creators. I’d have to say this last track was probably Obscenery’s most entertaining and complex, the album’s “magnum opus” if you will. And the ending was perfect, as you hear the radio reaching an explosive endpoint, dying out with undecipherable garbled words. I would love to hear this album on vinyl for two reasons – the band recorded it live, and as a purest, digital tracks just don’t do concept albums any justice. It was clear that most of the band’s songs bled into each other and from my understanding, only analog formats can do that without error. Meh, it’s probably just me being an old codger – enjoy the album.
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