A while back, I posted about the new album from my favorite Austin band The Drawing Board
. Finally, this Saturday at the Mohawk on Red River, the CD release party happens. In honor of this momentous event, I want to reexplore Clear to the Far Side of Way Over Yonder
as now I have had months to digest every little detail.
I want to start out by mentioning the cover art, although I have no idea who to credit with it. Directly linking with the title of the album, it shows a person hanging on a rope attached to a hot air balloon above a winter landscape (not really typical in Texas, except this winter). The inside is a drawing of a street grid for some unnamed city, detailed with hills, trees, churches and tiny houses, even little buggies riding on the named streets. The rear is a tunnel through large trees with their upper branches intertwining, creating other images. Cover and liner art is overlooked for the most part, but I want to congratulate the maker of these fine works.
Ok, enough about the artwork, its about the music, right? Now I am going to repeat myself (with some new blurbs throw in): 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 lead singer's 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!). It fades into the glamish rocker "Something I Can't Have", well the title says it all. The guitars are soaring, as are Justin's vocals. More gleaming guitars riffs (complete with solo) and driving rhythms flow in "Haven't We Been Through This?", with a repeating tag line for a chorus and "What About Me?", the feel-sorry-for-me stories of the aged in show business, the common worker freshly laid-off, and those fleeced by the televangelists.
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. It would be hard to stop tapping your foot to this song. 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. Lyrically, the strong storyish motifs as well as a wide range of vocal qualities and harmonies find their way into your mind and stick with you for days.
Usually we drop some links for you, but it is the CD release weekend. Ok, one that is not on the album. Listen on their myspace page
and if you like what you hear, BUY
(also on itunes) the album. Drop them a line, tell them you heard of them through us here at IA. If you are anywhere near Austin Saturday night, go to the Mohawk. Thanks again to Adam, Brandon, Dave, David, and Justin. It was a blast down in Austin. Now get up to the Northeast! Philly would love you!