Sonic Reducer: Train Conductor, Aaron Markland And Constant Harmony

August March
3 min read
Train Conductor
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Psychedelic rock—not just “psych-rock,” as a former Alibi music writer and supposed superhero demanded it be called, so that the fluidic genre sounded really cool, just like him—should be transformative and trippy. These qualities are successfully accessed and amplified on the latest recording by Train Conductor on their latest, eponymous recording. Will Byrne, James Sturgis and Andy Ward summon ghosts, shine the tops of their shoes brightly for late-night gazing and generally have a grand time on this latest effort. Beginning with the slow as sizzurp, melodic march to oblivion of opener “Debt Collector,” on through the brash, angst-ridden admonitions on “BLASE”—which are brilliantly realized with a pounding drum line and plangent guitar playing—and thoughout the EP, this work highlights the band’s ability to transform itself and listeners, providing a portal through which a trip inside the mind and out into the universe can be totally taken.

Aaron Markland Tide Break (Wall of Sound Productions)

Aaron Markland is a former member—honorably discharged, thank you—of the US Air Force Special Forces brigade who also happens to work as a firefigher here in the Duke City. The dude’s also an accomplished musician, specializing in surf-soaked and soulful tuneage that recalls both his home in Califas and the high desert of Burque. His second release, Tide Break, is a collection of rousing, reggae- and hip-hop-inflected rockers played with the acumen of a singer-songwriter whose experiences in life and music are brightly reflected and mused upon in the course of ten short tracks. While tunes like “Ocean View” and “Never Ending Summer” display a Jack Johnson-like sentimentality that may put off some listeners, Markland’s guitar playing, particularly his handling of the twelve-string, is technically proficient—sufficiently idiosyncratic and purposefully plangent to the point of demanding repeated listening.

Constant Harmony Phonological Assimilation (Push Drive Studios)

Here’s an album that came out much earlier this year, but that I am going to highly recommend in the first sentence of this review. Why? Because Phonological Assimilation fucking rocks. I won’t make any secret of the fact that I consider Constant Harmony to be one of the best “new” rock bands in Dirt City. Foregoing the hipsterish cool and cliquish affiliations of some of the other rocanrol bands outta Burque, Constant Harmony—two sisters and a brother named Sillery—take turns on different instruments for a set of forever changing, deliriously dissonant tuneage whose overall effect is one of relentless fury and intense introspection. That outcome is made possible by awesome chops. Highlights include, “Push Your Friends,” “Acid Rain” and “Soul Control.” By the way, I caught Constant Harmony’s riveting performance last week at Fall Crawl. I’ll never be the same. Serio.

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