Indeed, Space Is Still The Place

Indeed, Space Is Still The Place

the-bright-light-social-hour-space-is-still-the-place-1024x10243.5 out of 5 stars

Space Is Still The Place by The Bright Light Social Hour

Released March 10, 2015, by French Kiss Records

After touring for quite some time on their impressive debut album in 2010, The Bright Light Social Hour — from Austin, Texas, — have broken the silence and released their follow-up album.

The result is a trippy, psychedelic smorgasbord of blues, rock n’ roll, funk and electronica. “Space Is Still the Place” isn’t quite the spectacle that their raucous self-titled debut was, but that seems to be the intention here. The music is less explosive and high energy, and much more introspective, and overall — dare I say it — mature.

The band, Jack O’Brien (bass, vocals), Curtis Roush (guitar, vocals), Edward “Shreddward” Braillif (keyboard, various), and Joseph Mirasole (drums) have crafted their sound into a lush, expansive and groove-centric experience. Each band member shines equally throughout. Roush seems to always play the guitar right, O’Brien is present in the mix and grooves the shit out of his bass, and Mirasole is freakishly impeccable in his complex, engaging rhythms. It’s a treat to be able to listen to the synergy of talent within the band.

Instrumentally, the music is fantastic. Vocally is where the album doesn’t reach the potential that the band is capable of. The vocals are often put in the middle of the mix, soaked in effects and don’t seem to try to be too exciting. That isn’t a bad thing either, necessarily. Roush can really sing a soulful tune, and O’Brien’s ability to sing and be both goofy and cool at the same time, but it just wouldn’t fit with this new sound. It’s missed.

Perhaps the goal was to use vocals as their own kind of instrument. The lyrics are mysterious, too. While that’s cool, that also doesn’t give you a chance to really hook on to the song. Repeat listens bring different interpretations.

In a full listen, the band does a great job creating an immersive experience. Nearly every song dissolves into the next in a clever way, and the space vibe is consistent throughout. This is the kind of album you should listen to while traveling, either by plane or car — or through your own consciousness.

There’s a feeling of forward motion to the album, and a genuine “new,” yet cohesive feeling to each track as the album progresses. The music feels both familiar and strangely unheard of. The concept of “Space Is Still The Place” is the band’s theory of “Future South,” where modernity and tradition dance and build a musical culture of their own. Maybe that sounds too pretentious, but my point is the sound is cool.

However, the last two songs, “The Moon” and “Escape Velocity,” lose the momentum of the album. Things calm down after the album’s peak at “Infinite Cities” and stays that way. They feel like elongated psychedelic interludes more than fleshed out songs.

I suppose my only real gripe with the album is the lack of emotion throughout the album. It’s all very psychedelic and controlled, but it would take the music to the next level with a few passionate vocal parts or a guitar solo that leaves you thinking it said more than the lyrics did. This is certainly a great work, though.

One thing is for sure, the way the band blends their old material with their new makes for an exciting live show. If you’re into following the evolution of rock music, keep an eye on The Bright Light Social Hour. The future looks promising.

Stand-Out Tracks:

Infinite Cities: This was the album’s single, and for good reason. The infectious drum-machine-like beat from Mirasole and the fluid, warm guitar helps set up the most catchy and dancy song of the album.

Sweet Madeline: Essentially the title track of the album, the song provides an awesome taste of what “Future Southern” is all about. The song jams strong, keeps on building and calms down just in time before taking you into “Slipstream.”

Ouroboros: A heavy burning B-side, the song features ripping guitar riffs and dirty bass grooves. This one teases back to a little bit of what was going on in their self-titled debut album before deconstructing into a painful mess — in a good way.

Categories: Galleries