This is a good batch of music. These three albums each have something to offer and, even though I think the choice will be easy, I’m sure that I’ll spend a fair amount of time with each of these albums in the future. All three of the main selections exhibit intriguing combinations of styles in an effort to defy genres and express a nice bit of creativity.

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Album 1: Colors, by Beck (10/13/17)
Beck made waves back in the 90s with his surprise hit song, LOSER. Since then, he’s made his name as a bonafide artist exploring every corner music has to offer and walking the fine line between fresh new music and nostalgia. He’s a bit of a hoarder stylistically, in that his songs are so crowded with odds and ends. However, he manages to arrange all the pieces in such a way that there’s no doubt it all belongs. Digging into a Beck album often feels like unfolding origami.

We begin with the title track, COLORS, which features a throbbing bassline, a driving tempo, and a very full sound. This is like a combination of disco and pop and funk. It seems he never runs out of new elements to include and yet it’s all so very cohesive. SEVENTH HEAVEN begins a little lower key, but with the promise to swell into another spectacle. As we get to the chorus, it’s almost like stepping into a roadside convenience store with windchimes guarding the door. And the shelves are once again fully stocked with all the tchotchkes you could ever imagine. Our third song is called, I’M SO FREE, which offers a third palette of sound. There’s some 90s Alt-rock a la Smashing Pumpkins mixed with the driving electro-dance of BLUR, and eclecticism of a Radiohead all in one package. Not many artists can successfully make unlikely musical bedfellows sound so organic and natural. Quite an achievement.

BONUS: I will be stunned if this album doesn’t win. Our bonus track is DEAR LIFE and it opens with the feel of an old west saloon, complete with a hook plinked out on a dusty player piano. This is somewhat laid back but so engaging, it’s hard to pay attention to anything else going on.

Album 2: Everything or Nothing, by Carrollton (10/6/17)
Okay, so Carrollton is kind of a homer band for Studio DNA. Somewhere about two years ago (Shoe the Doe, Episode #57, upon further review), the band was in studio for a full on interview and all around good time. So, there may be some bias on this one as the tracks play. Signed to Centricity Records (home to Andrew Peterson, Lauren Daigle, Jason Gray, etc.) there are some expectations of artistic pedigree, but we’ll just let their music speak for itself and see how it pans out.

The album opens with GLIMPSES and I’ll just start off by saying that the cover art couldn’t be more appropriate for capturing the feelings I have listening to this acoustic guitar and unobtrusive vocals. I like the bridge leading into the chorus and there’s a really nice break around the 2:30 mark. Next up: SHELTER, which cranks things up a little bit, featuring a pronounced beat and nice piano touches to paint the borders of the poppy soundtrack. Another nice break in the middle here and they strip away the orchestration to feature a vocal that rings of desperation, complementing the lyrical proclamations of need. STAND MY GROUND rounds things out with a more “radio single” feel to it. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s a bit more production washing over the track on this one. The vocal is a little cleaner. It’s not a bad song, but there’s definitely a difference.

BONUS: The bonus song here is the title track: EVERYTHING OR NOTHING. And it opens with the rolling of the credits. This is a very subtle song. Very little guiding the vocal, but you know it’s building for a big breakout at some point. Jars of Clay. That’s what I’m thinking of here.

Album 3: ATLAS, by The Score (10/13/17)
The Score may be a band that you’ve never heard of but you immediately recognize upon hearing them. “Atlas” has been a long time coming – or at least it feels that way – since they have teased success for the last year and a half at least. And their songs have gotten plenty of airplay between being featured on the popular Dude Perfect Youtube channel and TV coverage for this year’s NBA Finals. (I haven’t decided which was a bigger or more important accomplishment yet).

This is another eclectic (pop, rock, soul, etc.) group that experiments with seemingly random rhythm breaks and energetic bursts. NEVER GOING BACK feels pretty restrained in some regards because you are anticipating a big sound, but they hold it in that midrange area with enough substance to keep you engaged throughout the entirety of the track. Next up, LEGEND. This is their big smash single that hit commercial airwaves last year. You can feel the influence of 70s rock in their guitars and the heavy rhythms. And the vocal edge crackles energy into the chorus. To wrap up the opening three, ONLY ONE offers a subtle intro with some minor “jump scare” interruptions to steady rhythm. There’s a drive to the beat that keeps the track moving along and again, you are expecting a big break out – like when they say “it’s time to break out”. I like it. It’s aggressively mellow.

BONUS: Our bonus track opens with a rattling bass beat that sets the atmosphere well. It keeps you a bit on edge, which is what you would expect if you were walking a TIGHTROPE. Once again, the song remains in that range of energy that keeps you guessing.

TUNE DU JOUR: WE LIVE BY DAY, by Felling Giants
Now for something different. Here’s a pretty straight up rock song that echoes with anthems of worship. I’ve heard a bit about Felling Giants as if they were someone to keep an ear out for and all they have is an EP and a pretty good track record on tour. I enjoy this song, but I’m not exactly over the moon based on this track. There are quite a few common pieces to it. I’ll leave it at that.

peace… love… bdg…