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Friday, June 18, 2010

Echoreview: Crumbling Arches' Yellow Years

Here's some fan art I made way back in the day for Crumbling Arches'
last album. I'll post the cover art for Yellow Years when it's released.

And here it is... the cover!
It's finally here! I'm extremely excited to say that a week and a half ago Crumbling Arches released their latest EP Yellow Years, a culmination of the discoveries of their college days put to song. True to form, the band debuts a new sort of sound and style on the album as well, rather unique to this era in its existence. Honestly, though, this comes as no surprise since, throughout its history, Crumbling Arches has been known to thrive in the realm of musical experimentation. This time around, their songs tend toward soft pop rock and often tread the line between humorous and very dark.

Now, unlike their 2007 full-length release the Somnambulist, Yellow Years is not a concept album. However, despite a large range of styles and subjects presented in the tunes, it exists as a mostly cohesive work and arguably holds a new story within its lyrics. So how do these new songs compare?

Mutant Love begins our musical journey with a twist on a classic story. As the song progresses, it weaves a tale of the struggles and changes that love brings although, in this case, the object of the singer's affection has gone through so many changes that she has transformed into, well, a mutant. My very first thought upon hearing this song was that it sounds like it's sung by ghosts in an underground cavern. Rather fitting given the subject matter, really. Although it took me a couple of listens to get into the recorded version of this tune, its incredible instrumental transitions and ridiculously catchy sound had me hooked pretty quickly. Now its one of my favorites on the album! I particularly love the line, "You seem different in my eyes. Dear God, my eyes have changed!" Something about those words just makes this song, despite its unconventional lyrics, feel right.

Now, naturally, Mutant Love would be followed by Vampire Sex, right? The vampires in this song aren't your standard Twilight vampires, though - no glitter here! Chronicling the curious sexual encounters of one man with a plethora of dangerous women, this tune has got something of a gothic feel to it. However, as the least serious song on the album, it does stick out a bit. If you're one for dark humor, though, you'll enjoy this one.

Continuing in the tradition of choosing odd names for their songs, Crumbling Arches gives us Daily Vitamin next. Vitamin is a slow and pensive ballad, a sort of picking-up-the-pieces tune. Musically well-composed, the lyrics absolutely make this song. Alternating between depressing and uplifting, this tune may be quiet, but it's certainly filled with feeling.

I know it will surprise readers of this blog to hear that my one of my favorites from this album is called Athens is Shit but, truly, I feel like everyone living here can relate to some part of this song. I love Athens more than any place in the world, but this song spells it out just right. Lines like "time of our lives, the dirty rotten time in my life" speak to college kid in all of us. After all, isn't everyone always telling us we're supposed to love college? Sometimes the reality of it, especially while you're living it, doesn't seem so great. Another line that's just perfect is "F*** a major, I don't need a career. With the way things are going, I won't live to see senior year." Classic stuff! Athens is Shit also gives us a generous helping of singer Brian McGaw's melodic voice which is rare on this album as these songs are written and largely voiced by singer Alex McKelvey. And while it has a bit of a nineties sound to it (after all, the band is heavily influenced by nineties rock tunes), it is musically probably the best song on here, with Daily Vitamin coming in as a close second.

Then Beez Kneez slows things down once more with the keyboard and guitar-filled tale of man whose legacy lived much longer than he did. This song features an enjoyable return to the harmonies between Brian and Alex that peppered their last album. Intentionally low fi vocals also give this song a sort of finality that rounds out Yellow Years.

Truly, I'm incredibly happy I've finally got my hands on these songs. Ever since I first heard these songs live over a year ago, I've been dying to have them! Want to hear them for yourself? Well, you're in luck! You can download your own copy of Yellow Years right here.

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