Friday, October 16, 2009
Satellite Tragedy’s Ridd Sorensen absolutely lives and breathes 90’s alternative rock. Since the release of their 2008 debut album New Beautiful on Pop-Up Records, the band and Sorenson (half of Satellite Tragedy) hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down their rapid production pace. As they continue to pour on exceptional demos for their second album, Sorenson has also lent his vocal talents to fellow Failure Tribute artists B.L. Barakus and the now defunct Orion. In case these weren’t enough outlets for his musical flood, Sorenson has brought Blind Dog Sky to the world, a solo project with guest collaborator Michael Marquesen. Creating an avenue to explore sub-genres previously untouched by his other projects; once again Sorenson has proven his ability to tackle a vast cross section of styles, seemingly with the greatest of ease. His penchant for 90’s alternative rock is broad and knowledgeable; as he demonstrates his ability to conquer everything modern rock radio of the previous decade holds near and dear. While his other band may stay relatively close to the space rock and the occasional industrial tag, Blind Dog Sky finds room for Sorenson to explore various degrees of Americana, power-pop, alt/country, folk, and garage rock. Similar in fashion to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s adventure into Americana on “Howl,” the tracks on Blind Dog Sky traverse genre while maintaining a unified sound.
Opening with the deep swampy twang of “Sitting on the Side of the Mountain,” a fluid mix of slow rusty blues guitar, sampled voice excerpts, and his nonchalant vocal melody wearily blending for a down home bayou opener. The southern influence continues into the alt/country syrup of “If I Only Had a Brain”. Harmonicas join a bouncing pop vocal line that can be most easily compared to the sickly sweet sound perfected in the 90s by Matthew Sweet. Instantly memorable and hopelessly honest, Sorenson hones in on his knack for creating radio friendly pop music, in true Sweet fashion with a roaring guitar solo and catchy hooks. “Away” instantly reminds me of a fine tuned Foo Fighters ballad, with layered acoustic guitars and a simple rhythm accompaniment. The arrival of the chorus and the amped up overdrive of guitars steer closer to the golden era of Weezer and “The Blue Album”. Double tracked vocals pop out the speakers mixing with pure power-pop harmonies at their finest. “I’m Coming Home” offers a woozy ode to the blues and Americana, with acoustics providing the backdrop for the singular lick that burns over the slow cooked groove. Sorenson’s vocals shine with upbeat acceptance as he sings, “I’ll be there when you wake up, so baby look for me… yeah”. Blind Dog Sky’s debut is the perfect soundtrack to a long, open drive through the country.
After just a few repeat listens these songs will ingrain themselves in your memory as though you’ve been listening to them for years, greatly due to Sorenson’s timeless song writing evident on “This Heart of Mine”. There is a great deal of familiarity in the song’s chorus, without being directly reminiscent of its influences. While the space pop of Year of the Rabbit can be heard interspersed throughout the record, Sorenson is able to stay original and consistently appealing to a wide range of tastes. “Nobody Knows” has a bright psychedelic impression that wouldn’t have been out of place with The Flaming Lips’ “Transmissions from the Satellite Heart.” The sing-a-long vocal textures ride upfront while swirling guitar distortion and processed effects whiz around adding much of the song’s charm. “Happy” glides with a chamber-esque organ driving the passionately heart-aching lyrics. Meanwhile, the electronic groove of “Beat Up Comic Books” will remind Ken Andrews fans of his time spent with On, only the sincere tell-tale vocals draw more heavily from the geek-rock of classic Weezer and Pavement. As Sorenson sings “the only action that I get is from my beat up comic books” over the distorted whine of his guitar solo, it brings to mind the aforementioned band’s “In the Garage,” and the return to a sound that proves most welcoming.
“You Talk Too Much” continues in the power-pop revival of the 90’s, with its sun-fused bounce of guitars and drums. “Be My Girl (So I Can Be Your Man)” is certainly the hardest rocking contribution to the album, with amped up garage rumbling distortion and thick as bricks vocal processing. Imagine a cross somewhere between Stone Temple Pilots, The Black Keys, and Eels at their rowdiest, and you will instantly be engulfed in the raw and biting love song, complete with hand claps and piercing feedback. Certainly one of the albums highlights, the track leads into the phone operating system intro of the standout “Amanda”. A dreary outer space procession of outstretched tones backs the space rock guitars and cymbal heavy rhythm section. The calming and infectious vocal melody peacefully drifts over the course of the eight minute opus. An expanding stream of guitars lift into the stunning layers of the chorus filled with sprawling effects that would sit well with classic Smashing Pumpkins or Failure. “I Don’t Wanna Be a Rock Star,” is an angst filled country/grunge jam detailing Sorenson’s disinterest in the life of stardom, the trappings of California, and chasing the rock star dream. The western themed cynicism of the lyrics, joined by a simple chugging riff, harmonica flourishes, and tongue-in-cheek humor is reminiscent of the 90’s grunge/folk of Cracker.
The heavy resonating swamp twang returns on “Marriage of the Divine,” a sincere ode to the finer side of marriage, before the song opens wide to reveal a cleaner atmosphere, with wedding worthy organs triumphantly joining the down and dirty blues licks. The album comes to a close with the acoustic ballad “Why We’re Alone”. Sorenson’s song writing remains exceptionally powerful from beginning to end, as he blends depressing emotional turmoil with a strong sense of hopeful wonder, for songs that are heartfelt without ever running into dreaded emo territory. In true 90’s fashion, there is a secret song following shortly behind the final track, and well worth the wait too. The non titled track pounds and surges with quirky noise bursting all around in true Flaming Lips-esque freak-out mode. The song’s indie-pysch amalgamation is the perfect closing to an album that shifts styles with moment’s notice, impressively doing so without ever losing the listener. To put it in its simplest terms, if you enjoyed modern rock radio in the 90’s, do yourself a favor and check out this album. With the intention of getting the music heard by as many open ears as possible, Blind Dog Sky have released the album for free digital download on his site HERE! Please check it out, and show your support to a natural song writer that is sure to keep great music coming for many years to come. If you enjoy what you hear, there are also physical copies of the album available HERE (e-mail for details).
Posted by Dan Goldin at 1:00 PM