Reviews

Three reviews of Glass, our second album.

•by Brent Fleury, of Bold Life Magazine

“As with their 2009, self-titled release, Albatross Party continues to explore, interpret and manipulate a wide variety of musical inspirations and influences within a pop/rock blueprint in a way that I’ve heard few others do. Their knack for doing something truly original in a genre known for redundancy and cannibalism (long live rock, anyway!) is unfaltering and impressive.

In a way, Glass strikes me as a more overall rockin’ album than their first — evident even on the slower “After The Funeral,” a hauntingly beautiful song, made more so by Tiziana Severse’s always-impressive and ever-expanding vocal prowess. Even the sweet-as-molasses “Rocketship” ends on an excellent head-bobbing crescendo. Guitarist Brent Baldwin is as diverse as ever, crafting wildly unpredictable solos that make you sit up and take notice. Indeed, song after song, I found myself thinking the same two things — “I wasn’t expecting that!” and “How did he even think of that?” Andy Bishop and Greg Latham are a wonderfully locked in rhythm section, and Bishop really needs to tell me how he gets that tone on his bass guitar! It sneaks in between everything else with a nice, powerful funk, really putting the icing on the cake. Clocking in at only 28 minutes, Glass is a bit of a tease. I sure could have used more, but I guess I can settle for twice as many repeated listenings! As with their last album, I’m putting it into my iPod right away.”

 

•From the August 10th issue of the Mountain Xpress, by writer Joe Chapman

“Albatross Party isn’t a band that immediately identifies itself as progressive rock, but with polyrhythms, alternating meters and the type of frantic tom fills that Neil Peart dreams of, Glass has a lot of Rush Permanent Waves-era flavor. The opening track, “Fall” follows the adrenaline-fueled collapse of a relationship: “You were my first love,” sings vocalist, keyboard player and Geddy Lee-counterpart Tiziana Severse. When the bass hits a riff during the song’s anthemic chorus, you have no choice but to raise a single fist in the air and bob your head. Unfortunately, headphone-listeners might be miffed by the song’s mix: “Fall” sticks out from the rest of the album as washed-out, with the drums suffering from a robotic sound, like they were either recorded on an electric drum kit and perfectly quantized or just mastered completely flat. The dynamics are lost somewhere in the lossy compression or lack of humanization.

If you don’t mind, it’s worth sticking out. “The Alchemist” brings in a more coherent Omar Rodriguez sound with a trebly bass, bongo drums and the percussive pop of a cowbell. The song showcases the musicianship of Albatross Party with varying time signatures and adventurous guitar solos that work their way up and down the fretboard. The bass’ funky midrange slowly ducks behind the drums and guitar and returns in time for one final series of time signature changes. Albatross Party probably prefers to avoid the progressive rock label and its stigma (for the same reason jam bands don’t like being called jam bands), but what they’re doing is inherently progressive. Rarely does a band find a balance between musicianship, compositional intricacy and accessible songwriting. If you’re looking for a theme song to your summer, look no further than Glass.”

 

• by James Cassara, of Rapid River Magazine

“From the opening helter skelter guitar/piano drive of “Fall” to the closing dreamscape of “Rocketship,” this sophomore album is a stunning revelation of just how ripe the musical talent in our fair town is. Here’s a band that comes out of seemingly nowhere, has been together for a relatively short time and played only a handful of gigs, and yet I’ll stack Glass against any of the multiple of discs that come across my desk each month.

Despite its six song brevity (or just as likely because of it) Glass packs an amazing wallop, like a prize fighter who knows when to feint and when to let loose with his best shot. The album overflows with tasteful touches, bright nuances that give every indication of a band that is only scratching the surface of their potential. Witness the middle eight thump of Andy Bishop’s bass in “Fall” or the searing violin break of the stunning “Sea Shanty”. Such moments are judiciously placed, beautifully played, and wildly effective. I’ve given Glass six or seven plays in just a few days – a rarity given the amount of music I receive – and it gets better with every listen.

There are a small number of caveats: I’d love to see lyricist Tiziana Severse write fewer phrases and more extended sentences, but that’s likely nothing more than a matter of my own tastes. I’ve long considered Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers as the most consistently intriguing band in Asheville, but, based on this release, those gents have some serious competition. And we who love music are the big winners.”
•A review of our self-titled first album, by Brent Fleury, of Bold Life Magazine

“Out of all the excellent attributes this recording possesses, the one that simultaneously intrigues and frustrates me, is the utter unclassifiability of the music. Albatross Party fits neatly into no genre, somehow breaking fertile ground without sounding altogether unfamiliar. Rock, r&b, tango, swing and jazz all factor prominently in the recording, but each song seems built from the ground up, each possessing its own personality. Nothing on this album sounds forced or out of place, and the band has a great working knowledge of when to lay back and when to let fly with both musical barrels.

When reviewing an album from a band with so much talent, it can be hard to mention everything that deserves special recognition (the rhythm section is super tight, by the way), but I’d be remiss if I failed to comment on the incredible vocal work of Tiziana Severse. Not content to join the ranks of the breathy, demure style of so many female vocalists, Severse belts it out to the back row with a style that would be right at home in straight-up pop, hip hop or even on Broadway. In one of the album’s stand-out tracks “Where Have You Been?” – a sassy, hard-driving, trombone-laden swing number – she even gives Gwen Stefani a run for her money. Sometimes wonderfully dissonant and other times focused and driving, guitarist Brent Baldwin seems to have an uncanny knack of knowing when to use that distorted guitar I love so much. Whereas I might use it as a main course, Baldwin uses it as a spice, garnishing the recording with brief stabs of overdrive, bringing to mind such guitarists as Primus’s Larry LaLonde, The Toadies’ Charles Mooney and Tool’s Adam Jones. Usually, after reviewing an album, I donate it to one of the fine, independent music retailers in our area. But this one I’m keeping. Sorry Harvest, but I’m sure you guys already have a few copies.”

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