CirdecSongs Rapid-Fire Record Reviews (December 7, 2021)

BENT KNEE, Frosting. No one will ever accuse avant-pop artists Bent Knee of treading musical water. With every successive album, there is a pivot for the listener absorb. And with every successive album, there is a great payoff. Frosting is no exception. The sonic shift might be blamed on COVID, which forced the band to work on the album individually, as opposed to their usual collaborative “all in one room” approach. As such, we come to learn more about the band as individuals. Keyboardist and primary vocalist Courtney Swain now shares the singing duties with Jessica Kion (bass), Chris Baum (violin), and Ben Levin (guitar), making an already colorful musical palate into a true kaleidoscope. Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth (drums) and Vince Welch (guitar, production) also expand their voices by way of additional electronics, adding spice to an already delicious mix. This is Bent Knee at their most innovative. It’s a shame this album had to end.

THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE, Illusory Walls. Indie rockin’, atmospheric colored music with progressive rock tendencies. This is an incredibly ambitious album from a truly inspired band. The breakout comes quickly and never lets up throughout its 70-plus minute run time. The guitars run from clean and reverb-drenched to brutal de-tuned metal, but never seem out of place. Basslines groove hard in lockstep with the drums. Ethereal keyboards and steady vocal harmonies float over the din to create a glorious sonic mix. Sit down, put on your headphones, and let the sounds wash over you.

GATES, Here and Now. A six-song ep whose only flaw is not being six songs longer. The New Brunswick, New Jersey band declared itself emerging from “tumultuous darkness” after five years between releases. That sound is conveyed in the indie rock grooves with post-rock overtones carried by lush melodies. The music draws you in right away and doesn’t let go. And like a favorite amusement park ride, it’s over before you know it. Here’s hoping there is more to come, and soon.


You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.

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