Parade Music started in 2017 and has maintained a steady flow of indie releases, each recorded in intentionally limited timeframes and spread across the Internet in one form or another. Their style spans everything, from indie folk to depressive black metal-tinged, post rock to something called “screamo.” (I guess I’m out of the loop with that genre). Anyway, this year, Parade Music was approached by a manager, which culminated in the formation and release of two albums. One is Oolong Mixer which gives the listener a well-rounded look at Parade Music's early releases, offering a simpler, lo-fi indie rock aesthetic that has been compared to Ben Gibbard and Connor Oberst. Its follow up Opulence feels a lot more intentional, focusing on a darker, bleaker sound, which matches its themes of guilt, depression, anxiety, envy, guilt and nihilism. Stylistically, the album is a blend of emo, hardcore, theatrical rock and cello-tinged balladry, offering a lot of variety to say the least. Some of the characters the band writes about are emotionally neurotic, which the group’s main songwriter sees in himself and those around him. Couple that with screaming, cellos, walls of distortion and barbershop harmonies with an additional ukulele, and you get an intentionally dark, confusing experience, which the band hopes people will identify with. On the technical side, Opulence was recorded in a storage room of a first-floor apartment using a mix of DAWs, including GarageBand and Ableton, over the span of three months.
To begin, “Welcome to Opulence” is a free form, fuzzy intro at just half a minute. “Mime Erotica” has a dark groove with post-rock and metal riffs reminiscent of hard rock and metal masters such as Alice Cooper, Scorpions, Dio and a host of others perhaps. Overall, this early track is a good example of blending old with newer rock/metal sounds. “The Suitmaker’s Gambit” starts off like an Emerson, Lake and Palmer tune mixed with a psychedelic Beatles number. A lot is going on here – a cello playing, a flute of some kind I think, a mandolin or a lute maybe? Quite a change in sound and style from the previous song. Production-wise though, it was a bit tinny – I wasn’t hearing much low end, warm bass sounds. “Pretty Pink, Pt. 2” cranks up the energy and full rock sound very well with a smattering of harp and piano. “Two Drinks” explodes out of the gate with a faster, head-bobbing rhythm – and if you’re into the “screamo” genre – this one’s for you.
“Pressure” has an interesting composition with its extra percussion and intricate guitar playing. What I liked about this song the most was its atmospheric sound and dynamics – more contemporary and indie rock you could say, you’d think you were listening to a completely different band compared to the last track. “Home, Pt. 1” is one of the band’s most introspective songs and musically, it’s somewhat more stripped down – sound effect a la synths, piano in the beginning – but then, a big, bold drum sound comes in, which took me by surprise. This one overall was a very emotionally impactful song. Switching gears once again, the band ramps up an explosive sound on “Masochism.” Perhaps you can compare some other bands you’ll hear on this track, maybe both old and newer ones – all I can say I was very attracted to this one. But if I hazard a guess, it has this Misfits and/or Cramps feel.
The next number “Delilah” features the ukulele and I swear it will immediately remind you of the Beatles’ “Michelle.” I’m pretty sure the gal here the band sings about is connected to Sampson in some way. Musically, I loved this one a lot – the cello, bells, the layered voices, the piano – all of it sounded so, darn good. Flipping a coin once again to another style is “The Ark” a nervous, hard indie rock n’ roller with dark, brooding vocals. The highlights here I thought, were the chilling background vocals and the ‘60s style keyboards. Of all the harder edged tunes, this one was my favorite. “Petite Mort” offers an acoustic folksy sound with the ukulele making an appearance again. This one had an emo-like style, reminded me of one-part Radiohead, one-part Connor Oberst and the voices at the end creeped me out.
“Twitch” feels like a classic rock opera tune a la Queen, but minus the “screamo” stuff going on, which is so not Freddie. Overall, a lot of great, explosive energy with this one – you can hear the nervous urgency within the instrumentation. Last, there is “Home, Pt. 2” a stripped-down sound of vocal and a banjo in the beginning, but then the rest of the band comes in with their instruments and what you get is an all-encompassing wild ride of rock styles. On the whole, I would have to give this record another listen or two – there is a lot of variety and dynamics going on.
I walked away convinced that this band doesn’t leave anything to chance. They explore a lot of ground musically, as well as having good chemistry, which is a strong characteristic for any band to have.
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