Ryan J Graham is artist from Yuba City, CA who recently released Curse the Dark. The album contains thirteen songs that embrace the DIY lo-fi aesthetic. When I say lo-fi I mean recorded with a ten-year-old Boss BR-1180 digital recorder. Some of it works well with the songs while I have to admit I would have liked to hear a recording quality bump. The music is varied and eclectic. I’d say there is a mix of post-punk, alternative and experimental.
I throughly enjoyed a good percentage of the singing on the album. He has a high -pitched voice and it works. It’s a bit hard to put into words what was aesthetically pleasing about his voice but there is something there that works with the music.
He opens with “Roanoke” which has a very similar air to a band like The Pixies. A steady drum beat and simple bass line create the foundation for Graham's vocals. He sings “Crazy Horse, St. Valentine Take all that's yours and all that's mine.” The song doesn’t have many dynamic changes and almost felt like a long intro.
The next track “Next to the Blue” is a highlight.I do wish the song had a couple more significant changes because I really enjoyed the music and thought the vocals were catchy. The longest track is “Wake Gina Wake” which almost reaches the five-minute mark. His vocals are upfront in the mix and the mix is fuzzy almost on the verge of sounding like white noise. It sounds sloppy but intentional.
The remainder of the album has mostly songs that are under two-minutes long. I have to admit a lot of it is catchy and was enjoyable such as “Lachry In Toronto.” “A Psalm of Strawberries” seems to be sung by a five-year-old while “Tierra Buena Middle School” is barely held together. They felt like appetizers. Songs that had some initial inspiration and for whatever reason weren’t fleshed out.
Graham has some talent I’m just not sure this is his full potential. There are some inspired moments here but I think the artist falls into the category of wait and see.
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