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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Echoreview: Efren's Thunder and Moan

Album cover for Thunder and Moan

Efren has come to town, and he's not letting his arrival go unnoticed! This mysterious musician (and occasionally group of musicians) will be letting the world get their hands on his debut album Thunder and Moan on December 4th at the Flicker Theatre. So what's it like?

Efren's style has a heavy, folksy quality to it that pervades each tune on the album. Roots with occasional layered vocals, his sound is that of one who's lived through much and dug into the depths of his heart to share it with us. It's a clear home recording which certainly gives his songs a very indie feel. Here's the breakdown.

Father's Proof starts off the record with a quiet, spiritual journey through Efren's relationship with Jesus. Quite an interesting way to begin, I must say. The next tune Montana Scare, however, sounds much more like the other songs in the album. It ushers in the darker tunes on the record and, with a focus on alcohol and women, it's quite the trip into sinner's land after the first song. Bruised Tomatoes follows this with a unique rhythm that brings the listener on an incredibly vivid adventure. Without even closing my eyes, this song conjured up visions of rolling meadows and soft breezes. The twitter-ready tune entitled Pound Yr Chest brings a much more upbeat sound to the album followed by the quieter, very rhythmic See You Laugh At the Lights. Both are simple yet enjoyable listens.

For me, Advantages proved to be the low point of the album. Although I enjoy the dark quality and general tune of this song, its hard-to-understand lyrics prevented me from truly becoming engaged by it. One of the shorter songs on the CD, its heavy strumming seems a bit out of place in this part of the album. The following tune Cut My Hair, however, is probably my favorite on the record. Beginning with a gorgeous acoustic guitar intro that flows easily into the lyrical section of the song, it's the perfect piece to listen to on a dreary day as rain beats heavily upon your window. The chorus combines a very simple yet heart-wrenching set of lyrics with a peaceful tune and the occasional inclusion of an intriguing, unclassifiable sound that resembles anything from a sharp wind blowing to a woman screaming in the distance. Fascinating song.

The album's namesake, Thunder and Moan, emerges following Cut My Hair with a rather upbeat, danceable tune. Distinctly different from most of the previous songs on the album, it provides a technical turning point on the record. Nearly all of the remaining tunes retain a similar, positive vibe. After a short instrumental track, Hickory Bell picks up with a twangy, upbeat tune. This particular song about a less-than-talented musician introduces a bit of humor into the mix with lines like "he sounded like a dead goose." The slow and soothing Up in the Drifts song finishes out the album with layered vocals and a sense of completeness. This tune has a curious pop music feel to it that makes it stand out against all of the other songs on the record. Its sound is one of uplifting hope, the perfect ending to the album's tumultuous journey.

Essentially, Thunder and Moan truly describes the sound of the entire record. Don't miss your chance to experience this aptly-titled album live from start to finish this Friday at Flicker. Rumor has it you may even get a chance to get your hands on a free download of these songs if you attend!

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