Friday, November 13, 2009

A Beautiful Noise

THE BEAUTIFUL CONFUSION – “The Beautiful Confusion” CD ’09 (Private, US) – Call me set-in-my-ways…actually, that would probably be one of the kinder things that people have called me...but when I hear the words “Seattle, Washington” a couple things come to mind. Of course, like my home town’s O-No’s, there’s a bad baseball team, The Mariners. There’s also a wealth of wet weather, beautiful scenery and a Starbucks on every corner. When it comes to music, though, my focus is narrower: Queensryche and the grunge scene of the mid/late ‘80’s. And that’s how this beautiful Confucius say: “Open your mind, son, all is not what it may seem.”

THE BEAUTIFUL CONFUSION are a band from Seattle and they have nothing in common with prog-metal concept albums nor flannel shirts and long hair flailing. In fact, when I slid this one in and the strains of “December Morning” washed out of the speakers, I thought I was listening to an early Eagles gem, maybe off “Desperado,” something like that. Hmm…I thought, haven’t heard something like this in awhile, as the smooth-yet-ultimately catchy country rock of “Heartland Mystery” continued. Much like those California boys (before they took the corporate turn with their later stuff), TBF display a knack, not for anyone named Sharona, but for mixing deceptively hook-laden pop with a nicely-crafted musical base. Eric Sviridas guitars supply an open-air backdrop for Dalen Bakstad’s vox which sport a throaty, emotional Alex Band (The Calling) sort of vibe. Where the band really take off, however is with track # 5, “Campbell Drive.” This slow, hypnotic number may not seem much in theory (it’s basically a verse and chorus repeated twice), but in reality it is a stunning piece that I’ve gone back to repeatedly. Similar in it’s originality is the slow and ethereal glide of “Windows 3.” Here, and increasingly in the 2nd half of this record, Sviridas’ guitar and the pedal steel of Jason Kardong engage in some simply gorgeous musical conversations. While not over-the-top in notes per second, these guys mesmerize in their ability to work wonders within the framework of the song. Never is this more evident than on the lengthy (nearly 6 minutes) “Rain.” With an almost orchestral feel, embellished by some well-placed electronic effex, this one slips on a coat that I’d describe as something akin to “Progressive Americana.” Figure that one out, while you’re then drawn into the bizarre 50-some second noise-interlude of “Casablanca” and led to the conclusion by “Little Co.”’s understated strains. Better yet, don’t try to figure anything out. Just buy this CD, put it on late at night and allow it to wash over you. For a thoughtful, pensive mood this is as nice a record as I’ve heard in many a moon. No Confusion Here

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