I thought with my last post that that would be all for today, but I was way wrong. The way the last group I reviewed appealed to the romantic side of the rain that's pouring outside, that is the way this one appeals to the darker side of it. It's the way their music makes something so dark seem to beautiful that first entranced me, and it's something that I continue to love.
Out of Leeds, England, U.K., I present Abandoned Sea Men, an alternative-rock four-piece that stretches the boundaries of alternative rock to new lengths. Comprising members Aaron Dulay (lead vocals and guitar), Oliver Blair (keyboards and vocals), Elliot Hillary (bass and vocals), and Will Long (drums), ASM are a fresh new sound on the U.K. alternative scene. Much like my previous post, these guys have a four-song demo that's available to listen to (and probably buy), and I love every song from it. I'll start at the beginning though, to do this demo the justice it deserves.
The demo starts off with "The Way You Do," a creepy, alternative-styled song with apparent influences by The Cure, Muse, The Cult, and other darker musical acts. The song starts with a Cure-like drumbeat by Long, and is quickly bounced out by a searing guitar riff from Dulay. In the back I can hear Hillary's bass providing an almost grunge-like element to the mix, while Blair's keyboards are cold and soulless; a perfect sound for this song. Dulay's vocals approach Muse-like levels, and the sound of the song makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I'm also more than partial to the stop/start flow of the song, going from a very choppy chorus to a very fluid verse. And towards the end, the meshing of all the instruments in an almost chaotic fashion deals a deadly blow to any reservations I might have. A brilliant starting song that deserves every one of the five out of five stars I give it. Definitely a would-be breakthrough single.
Song two is "Admittance," another Muse-style song that relies heavily on Dulay's unique vocal style to make the rest of the song work. But that's not to slight the other members; Blair's keys here are relentless in my ears, and Hillary's bass lines approach levels owned for years by Soundgarden. Then Long's drums take off, and while Dulay chokes his guitar for just the right alternative notes, Blair's keyboards explode with Hillary's bass behind him, and the song is a complete success in my book. Long's drumming is particularly excellent here, with rolling beats and fills, and Dulay reaches vocal notes not heard since The Darkness and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." A song that continues ASM's techno-rock/alternative-rock sound, and definitely one I'd expect to hear on a greatest hits collection.
After the soundstorm that was "Admittance," I move on to "More," a song that is slightly scaled back from the chaotic sound waves of its predecessor. Beginning on Long's count, Dulay slides in on a more indie-rock sounding guitar riff. His vocals are haunting and soulful, and during the chorus I hear backup vocals from Hillary and Blair as Hillary's bass lines are soft and almost undetectable, and Blair's keys add to the melody of Dulay's guitar notes. The real jewel of this song, however, is the interlude, where Dulay lets go with a clean riff while Blair goes to town on his keys. With accompaniment by Hillary and Long, the interlude in this song makes it a must-hear.
The last song on the demo is "Not the Same (Without You)." If I had to describe this track in just a few words, I would term it as ASM's ballad track. With melodic vocals by Dulay that you can sing along to, and guitar notes meshing perfectly with key strokes put down by Blair, this is a definite would-be staple during their live show. Long has scaled back his drumming to just the toms and a few crash hits, and Hillary's bass is firmly rooted in the background keeping the song moving with strong notes and tight control. This was the perfect song to wrap up the demo. A great end to a demo that demonstrates what an incredible group can do with its first four recordings.
Sounds Like: Muse, The Cure, Pixies, The Cult
Key Tracks from demo CD: "Admittance," "The Way You Do," "More," "Not the Same (Without You)"