Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Release Tuesday: The Drawing Board

Ok, so it wasn't released today. I got my hands on it Saturday night at the short notice show (with The Boxing Lesson and Black Before Red) at Mohawk, but I will go into details of that in another post. Who are these guys? Just an Austin band that plays great music. Keep reading.

The title of record is Clear to the Far Side of Way Over Yonder. Quite a mouthful. The cover art (above) captures the essence of the title, drawn into the air by a balloon, not knowing where the wind may take you and the album also takes you somewhere you haven't been before. Over half the songs are new to me, not hearing them performed live (granted, I've seen them only three times) or not listed on the 3 song disc or their myspace page.

The album kicks off with Clear to the Far Side, a short (less than a minute) opening soundscape of feedback, pedal steel, and backing vocals underneath Justin Tapp's ranging croon for some reason gives me images of Pink Floyd and The Beach Boys together in a lounge in Vegas (how's that for an image!). From there, use of different styles take us all over the musical map. The rocker Something I Can't Have slips briefly into glam mode as the vocals rise into falsetto over gleaming guitar riffs during portions of the song, but still has the Beach Boys-esque harmonies everpresent. The pure power-pop guitar and the call and answer chorus of Haven't We Been Through This creates probably the most catchy song on the album. Try not to sing along.

The rest of the album shows more of a mellow side. The musically upbeat, but absolute lyrical downer of Happy With You is bouncy, smile while you cry over someone music, while What About Me has a hard rock vibe (brief guitar solo case in point) flowing underneath jaunty guitars and harmony-filled vocals. It would be hard to stop tapping your foot to these songs. The ballad Opposite of Home reminds one of coffeeshop troubadors telling a sing-song story over acoustic guitars (with some keys thrown in for good measure). It's a Lie gets overtly political. One is unlikely to notice though, as dream-like vocals and quiet strums of acoustic guitar will make you forget the world around you and get lost in the music. The capstone of the album is the ethereal final track, Lose My Mind, drawing upon a definite later-era Beatles influence.

On the whole, Clear to the Far Side of Way Over Yonder is well put together musically. Every song has some hook to it that keeps you there and doesn't let you skip ahead to the next track. The use of different instruments that are not of the norm in rock today (pedal steel, glockenspiels) is a welcome addition. I cannot say much about the actual lyrics as I have not sat down and tried to grasp all of them yet (and no lyric sheet). I am having a hard time getting past the great intrumentation and vocal quality in the songs.

With all that gushing from me, I want to hear from you all. What do you think? Am I crazy? Or am I right on the money? Also, check out the other post about The Drawing Board after I saw them the first time. Big THANKS to Justin, Brandon, Dave, David, and Adam for the great music and the CD. Now get out there and support these guys!

Here are some songs off the CD that are not found anywhere else. Enjoy!

Happy With You
Lose My Mind


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