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TRACK LIST: 1. La Vaca Baila 3:58 2. Ned Untrumpeted 8:46 3. Faker 6:51 4. The Audition Room 11:56 5. Overlook 6:22 6. A Goodbye Greeting 5:23 LINEUP: Jack Blair – vocals; keyboards; guitars Dave Scags – guitars; backing vocals Evan Jacobson – drums; b/v Steve Gio – bass; b/v
Prolusion. DRIFT is a US band that was formed in 2007, with New Jersey as its base of operations. "Driftsongs" is the band's debut effort, a self-made and -released production that was issued at the start of 2009.
Analysis. When listening through this initial production of Drift, one can hardly argue about their choice of moniker. These guys most certainly drift, from one stylistic expression to the other. Unlike other contemporary acts, this band tends to explore each type of music separately though. Rather than blending a multitude of styles within each composition the variation here is on a song-to-song basis. And what can one expect when a band mentions Genesis, King Crimson and Porcupine Tree as some of their major influences? Art rock is an answer that shouldn't come as a surprise to that question. The opening number La Vaca Baila is an instrumental effort from the Camel school of symphonic rock, while the following track Ned Untrumpeted takes on more of a folk and space-tinged art rock sound - for some reason reminding me quite a lot of Eloy. Faker is a track residing somewhere in between Porcupine Tree's heavier efforts and progressive metal in style, while the epic excursion The Audition Room explores a Genesis-inspired musical territory. Overlook reminds me quite a lot of Rush, with some nifty Killing Joke aspects added in the second half, while the final effort A Goodbye Greeting sounds like something inspired by one of Rush's ‘70s efforts, lightly spiced with symphonic textures. All in all, it’s a rather eclectically inclined production. And Drift is comparatively good at exploring all these stylistic expressions. Especially the instrumental passages are intriguing, filled with energy and passion, and while not the most innovative or sophisticated of compositions the moods are strong, distinct and performed with a lot of verve. In fact, if not for one major negative drawback this is a CD I would have ranked on my list of the most talented efforts of 2009, and the drawback in question are vocals. Jack Blair is a more than able composer and instrumentalist, but his vocals leave a lot to desired, at least in my opinion. He often reminds me quite a bit of Kurt Cobain for some reason, but with a lighter voice overall. And with a general tendency to be slightly out of tune, which combined with a somewhat naive quality in the general expression, it adds up to be rather grating. In an indie pop band this voice would have been suited quite well, but when dealing with sophisticated art rock it doesn't match the harmonic and melodic qualities needed as I regard it.
Conclusion. Drift is a talented act, and while not exactly treading new ground or making music daunting to get familiar with, its efforts are sincere and performed with passion. If an eclectic and varied take on art rock is something you're interested in, and if you don't mind a distinctly below average vocal performance, "Driftsongs" is an album that you might just want to check out further.
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