For the longest time, I was pretty bad about experiencing new music. I tended to keep to what I liked and not much further. At some point I had this revelation that I had missed the greater part of a decade’s worth of music.
My transition into the light was a rather dramatic one that resulted in me owning my very first pair of hi-fi speakers, the Rega RS7’s. I still remember maxing out my credit card at the time and driving home thinking “now what?”. Those wonderful speakers served as the foundation for my growing love of music that continues today.
Okay, enough with being sentimental. It was a little later that I discovered actually liking vinyl. At that time though, owning a decent table was outside of what I could afford, as I was still licking my wounds after having just graduating college. So I did what any reasonable person would do – buy records before owning an actual table.
This album by The Head and The Heart is one such example. It would be a few years before I would listen to the album. Not only that, but I had completely forgotten this was in my collection and was quite delighted when I rediscovered it. Alrighty, let’s get cracking.
Onto The Music
This is one of the few albums that I heard on vinyl before digital. Thus, I went in without knowing anything about how it was recorded, mastered, and ultimately sounded. Long story short, I was pleasantly surprised.
The album opens up with a great track – Homecoming Heroes. Something about this track just makes me smile every time. A combination of the lyrics and “feel good” melody? I don’t know, but it’s a tremendous way to start the album.
My favorite track by far is the 2nd. Every time I listen to it, I get goosebumps. Sometimes I ask myself “why?”. It’s not an overtly complex or deep track. But. It does a lot of things right for me.
Josh Mcbride marks the second track that really captures my attention. If I had to put my finger on it, it would be the wonderful sensation of acoustic music that is created from the onset. The bass-line isn’t overpowering and the backup vocals flank the singer on both sides. Even without closing my eyes, it’s easy to tell that they’re standing a few feet back to either side. <needs more>
Coming to “Cruel”, it’s become obvious that this album is a grand slam. The pace of music, the mastering… everything is pointing to a great album in my mind. This track is an example of that breadth of class that gives really shows what the artist is all about. This song, objectively, doesn’t belong on the album in my opinion. I don’t mean that in a “it’s terrible” sort of way, but rather that the style took me by surprise the first time round. What I enjoyed most about this track was the piano work. It’s subtle, but played to strengthen everything else. As expected of my reference system, no details were left unturned.
Finally to the title track, I feel like I’ve truly come to appreciate the masterful work. The dual singers, the melody, bass line. Everything culminates to a truly wonderful listening experience with this track. And in reality, it’s all so simple. There isn’t anything complicated about the track, be it the lyrics or the aforementioned melody and rhythm. But it just works. I constantly found myself looking away from my notepad and just enjoying the beer of choice for this album. Bravo.
As I’ve now made more than halfway through the album, it had become readily apparent that this was best enjoyed without the distractions. Normally I have a notebook on hand to write down notes or my laptop if I’m pulling double duty. Around this time though, I decided it would be best to just put them down and devote my full attention to the album.
The next track was a huge surprise from the last few that preceded it. “My Friends” was surprisingly upbeat and did a great job lifting up the overall weight of the album from the slower, more methodical timing that I had grown accustomed to. An interesting difference in this track I noticed is that the singer seemed to be a few feet further back than previous tracks. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but just something I noted.
As I had put down my notebook, I don’t have a lot of notes for the rest of the album, but I think it’s safe to say that it was as pleasant to listen to as the first half.
The Album In Review
It should come as no surprise at this point that I felt this was a killer album that they knocked out of the park. The mastering was better than expected and the band did a great job of making use of the space – you know, that whole sound-staging thing.
If I had to nitpick… It would be that the singer’s forwardness didn’t remain constant throughout the album. Perhaps that was intentional though.
What About the Beer?
For today’s session I chose the Tiki Hop Totem by Blue Owl. I’ll come straight out and say that the flavor combination – coconut and pineapple – would never have been my first choice. They’re fine flavors, but not my usual cup-o-tea.
Blue Owl calls it a Milkshake Sour IPA. I think the milk sugar and coconut played really well together to provide a beverage that reminded of the beach every time you had a sip, yet wasn’t abstract enough that you had to really sit and contemplate the flavors.
Yea, that last comparison was a little out there. At the end of the day, this beer was a reminder of why I love Blue Owl Brewing and why I will continue to support them when possible.
Until Next Time!