Rock music can be difficult to execute. The nature of the genre demands navigating a fine line between complexity and simplicity. Light and Heavy. Soft and Hard. The best master the balance of these opposing forces and Artificial Flavors, the debut EP from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania quartet screamcloud gives me the impression the band takes mastering this balance seriously.
My listening began with the EP's namesake, "Artificial Flavors." The band wasted no time falling into a somehow lazy, yet snappy groove that got my attention early. I believe this song was listed second on the track-list, but understand why It played first if it wasn't user error. There is an apathetic tone established with the groove that Vocalist Emily Daly perfectly harnesses the power of with both her voice and lyrics "is my heart still beating?" The culmination of all these elements set the stage for a refreshingly early, perfectly executed guitar solo. This is the type of song that gets you through a long day. I found myself listening multiple times before moving on. I tend to like material that's a little catchy; I feel like this EP satiated me in that regard.
I enjoy the feeling of remembering and experiencing songs that strike a chord in my mind. The band did a solid job executing their material in the studio. Their takes sound organic and heartfelt. I could care less about the production techniques used, I simply want to relate to the feelings an artist is communicating. "In Real Life" struck me as a road trip song, the kind you listen to in the middle of a 8-hour trek after being up (maybe a few days?) as you contemplate your place in life. The steady rhythm section establishes itself without fanfare and hums along much like a car on cruise control. Charles McQuiggan and Danielle Lovier play with control, giving Emily Daly and guitarist Joshua Curry (I assume) time to work respectively, before blooming into a short, but classy psychedelic jam. As I gave it a second and third listen, "In Real Life" struck me as a lullaby too. My 7-week old son passing out in my lap as we listened probably influenced my perception there.
"Routine" begins with gnarly guitar riffage before a slick drum beat drives things forward. The baritone was a great choice for any "grunge" or "garage" band. It has the versatility to either thicken the rhythm section or be a solo instrument. I wish it was a bit longer, which is a compliment, and I hope the band takes their time with it on stage.
screamcloud did a great job on their first offering, at times reminding me of Sweethead, other times Garbage, and sometimes Warpaint, all for different reasons. If they keep this up, I may have a new band to follow.
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