Projecting their dark indie rock sound down from the North Bay in California, Strangecrimes released their second album in October 2013. Each of the members has had their own musical projects in the past, but have come together to form Strangecrimes. Their second album, Restless Minds is a more refined, yet raw, dark indie rock record. Restless Minds was recorded and Mixed at Atlas Studios by drummer Jesse Wickman, and mastered at Burning Token by N8 Elder.
Strangecrimes reminds me of the emotional indie rock bands from the early 2000s but with a darker edge and more complex composition with its musical interludes. Restless Minds kicks off with gentle palm mute guitar and an uplifting keyboard melody. “Up in Flames” transitions around 1:16 with powerful pauses that bring the listener down to the seriousness of the words “we’re going up in flames.” Followed by a heavily distorted guitar solo the song takes a turn for the dark.
“All the Blame” wins my heart for overall best track. The sound is more holistically nightmarish than catchy. The anxious keys and ominous single strum minor guitar chords during the intro establish an emotionally heavy tone. Track 4 seems like a cathartic breakup rumination. The powerful pauses at 1:08, that are repeated again later, wait for an answer for Brittenham’s declaration “you can take / you can take / all the blame / all the blame.” The purposefully off-beat instrumental bridge breakdown in “All the Blame” well accompanies the anxious subject of the lyrics.
“The Burnout Years” is the strongest lyrical track; it speaks to the burnout the generation of twenty somethings being pressured to work 24/7 due to the internet and email. Backed up by heavy grunge guitar, Brittenham states “we’re casualties of the burnout years…it’s shrapnel from the / years of abandonment.” The guitar transitions from more melodic to a fuzzy grunge after the first verse. The grungier feel add to the eeriness of the repeated phrase “isn’t that how you like it / I am gone and you are here.” This track tells a fully arced story.
Check out the guitar and bass working together in “Shards” after “It’s been a long time coming / the grooves across your cheek.” They play synchronously, and together build a dissonant sound. I can imagine them on stage at this moment, facing each other. There are echoes of Nirvana in this interlude, that I want to hear more of to cut the catchiness.
Strangecrimes has an album wide dissonance between a catchy sound and harrowing lyrics. Their transitions exhibit compositional prowess, check out the keyboard breakdown in track 2. Hopefully they’ll play some shows around the Bay Area soon.
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