Whenever I think about the future, I will think about what will still be thought about 10, 20, 30 years into the future. All our fads, all our styles, all our words, how much will be used? I tend to combine that with the thought that if a famous celebrity would be around today, would they be famous? I’ve heard the question that if The Beatles were brought into today’s society, would they be as famous? Obviously not, because a lot of today’s music is influenced by the Fab Four. Taking them away from the 60’s would forever impact rock music, leaving a whole in everyone who found influence in them. A weird paradox so to speak. It’s logical to think they’d adapt though. They wouldn’t have the simple “la-di-da” melodies and covers of the 50’s, but presumably they would add more effects. That’s what every musician seems to have today, right? Music is all about survival of the fittest. To stand the test of time, you need to create the sound that defines the generation.
Now the question is: what is that sound? We don’t want to sound like others, so how to do we go about being ourselves? For starters, don’t listen to others. Now that’s just brutal advice, so I’m going to stop there and talk about our latest band, Gumshen. The Seattle group combines elements of progressive rock and the popular indie standards that run the radio-waves. To start, they’re extremely catchy and fun. I opened up the link, reading the title Progtronica, and let out an extremely audible grown. How could anyone with common sense want to have this title on their hard-worked album. Well, it makes complete sense. They do mix electronic music very well progressive rock. I’ve only heard King Crimson try this on their album Discipline. No comment on how that turned out…
It seems Gumshen have learned from others mistakes. “Bell Ringer” opens the album with a jumpy synth riff over top a talented vocal section that reminds me Christmas music. It’s melancholic textures and poppy bass soothes me to tune out to the 7 minute track. It also has a killer guitar solo that finds its way fitting perfectly over the same stellar drum beat. The amount of spelling errors I’ve made so far is countless, considering I keep jamming out in my chair typing this. “Stipulation” just screams 90’s summery pop. It’s extremely nostalgic, but I hear the same sounds that were found in Wonderous Bughouse (Youth Lagoon’s 2013 album). The one line is probably the truest lyric I’ve heard in ages (“Turning 20 dollars into 20 dimes”). I feel you Gumshen.
These guys are incredible in sync with one another. They find ways to turn their sugary pop riffs into timeless progressive jams. Not to mention they jump from a summery anthem into a jazz club soundtrack with the switch of a keyboard sound. Tricks like that is what keeps a band going. Now Progtronica is only six songs, but it spans just over 30 minutes, but I’ve never been a good mathematician. Now five of these tracks stand out, with the exception of “Fine One to Talk Too”. It comes across as a Porcupine Tree B-side, which is still impressive, but doesn’t fit the overall theme of the album. I’d love to hear that sort of swaying, arena-rock goodness on an entire release, but when it’s stuck in the middle of keyboard driven release, it throws off the mood.
“Liquid” is sweet. It opens sounding like a soundtrack to my childhood, slowly blending into a determined, caricature of the riff. When I first threw on this album, I wasn’t a fan of Ron Hippe’s sly vocals, but like Travis Morrison of The Dismemberment Plan, he soon became the only voice in my head. He has a signature style that stands out. His little sarcastic quips of vocals, followed by a strong string of Axl Rose impressions fits the band’s style greatly. He puts care into his vocals, which I admire.
This album closes off with the definition of the album title. “Fragile We Are Castles” is like a mixture of Ratatat and Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd (IMAGINE THAT). It’s spacey, gigantic, and plain gorgeous. Over an 8 minute length, they jump to about five styles of progressive music, ranging from jamming to syncopated, tight staccatos of notes. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much on a first listen, but I was drawn to hearing more from Gumshen. Although a little cheesy and weak at times (“Bait & Switch”). These guys know what sound they want, and just go for it. I can respect that, and for their efforts they’ve released an album that exemplifies their determination to stay alive in the dog-eat-dog world on music.