Review Roundup #4: Dead Country, Rooftops, Urban Preacher
The proof is in each individual track: “Euro Thrash” is reminiscent of pop-rock heroes Third Eye Blind in their heyday, “The Shade” and “Satori in Luzern” sounds like a male-fronted Paramore, with Blink-182‘s Mark Hoppus doing vocal harmonies, while closing track “Sea Change” has a bit of a harder edge, reaching into Big Wreck territory, while maintaining the similarities to their other influences.
There isn’t much to be said about these four tracks that the above comparisons don’t tell you. Dead Country are onto something, and a full-length of this kind of material would definitely be welcomed.
Unfortunately, very few of the ten tracks that make up A Forest of Polarity actually go anywhere, other than “Tear as I Fly” and the absolutely stunning “Leafy Stair”. Even the ten-minute closing track “Sea Frailty” barely ventures outside of its front door. A lot of the songs try to conduct emotion with their instrumental arrangements, and while some do, most end up feeling flat. Oddly, vocals only show up on “Raft Easily”, which are welcomed, but could be used a bit more frequently throughout the record.
Still, despite its shortcomings, A Forest of Polarity is a very likable record. It would be a whole lot more likable if more tracks were like “Leafy Stair”, but the quadratic formula says that cannot be true (yeah I really sucked at math, but wanted to try to think of something clever. I failed.)
Somehow, I always manage to forget that there are still bands that play good ol’ fashioned blues, and do a good job of it. Toronto’s own Urban Preacher are such a band, slide guitar, saxophone, and all.
The first thing that sets Urban Preacher’s six-track self-titled EP apart from the brief encounters I have had with other nu-blues (did I just invent that?) artists is that they have a female vocalist. Also, despite this being the blues, these six tracks are all feel-good numbers (just check out opener “On the Rooftop”). The songs all follow familiar blues templates, but you can just feel the enjoyment the band has playing these tracks on the disc. However, the slow, five-minute “Vintage Girl”, slows down the uptempo vibe the band has on the five other numbers. This only hinders the EP a little bit, as the rest of the tracks are enjoyable enough to make up for it.
I am not a huge blues listener, but Urban Preacher definitely do right on this EP. Plus, I am always one for finding local talent to push.