Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today, More Than Any Other Day...Is the BEST Day to Listen to Ought

I realized recently that I never reviewed my #2 pick for the top albums of 2014 and that is something that needs rectifying because the release is one of a kind and sounds NOTHING like any other music coming out these years.  I say years and not days because it is truly one of the most unique musical experiences I’ve had in a long time.  More than Any Other Day by Canadian alt-punk band Ought is stunningly imaginative and incorporates a diverse range of vocal and instrumental influences to craft a musical style which defies categorization.  The albums eight tracks are almost all over five minutes long allowing for compositions which change tempo, volume, and style several times throughout while allowing for the disassembling of traditional song structure in favor of an artistic, often spoken and chunky aesthetic that devolves into captivating guitar solos and steady rhythm sections.  Lead in track “Pleasant Heart” starts things off with a steady guitar driven tune which crashes into atonal static and feedback at the 3 minute mark before picking up at the end.  Title track “Today, More Than Any Other Day” is my favorite on the album.  Starting off slow and steady with a simple drum beat and casually plucked discordant guitar strings, the songs breaks open with a burst of energy at the 2:00 mark as lead singer Tim Beeler repeats “We’re sinking deeper…” pulling in the listener before launching into a David Byrne style vocal explosion of clearly stated lyrics which state simple positive exclamations like “Today! More than any other day, I am excited to stare into the eyes of the old man sitting across from me on the train and say, everything is going to be ok”  With a chorus of “Today, together, today, together, today, together, we’re OK” its hard not to jump up and down and smile during this song as you’re filled with positive energy.  The chunky, base driven “Habit” comes next and sees more Byrne style vocals as the song starts out as more of a spoken word piece.  Matt May’s keyboards come through heavily on  “The Weather Song” which sounds the poppiest of all the tracks with a fantastic chorus of “I! Just wanna revel in your lies”.  Slow and haunting  “Forgiveness” sounds straight out of Sunday Mass and takes several minutes to build up slowly with discordant feedback  before the first word is even spoken.  The song ends up recalling Pavement with a slower temp.  “Around Again” brings the keyboards back into the rhythm section in a big way as a smooth baseline keeps everything on track before  the song closes it’s last few minutes with a sharply repeated set of chords and Beeler repeating “We have reached the intermission, we can ask him all our questions….like are we there yet? Or are we lost forever?”  You’re left with an uncomfortable feeling while accepting that that song just reached new levels of ingenuity and thought provoking lyricism.  “Clarity” follows the one aspect of form which can be said applies to most of Ought’s songs in which a slow beginning gives way to a loud and more traditional song structure towards the end with the singer yelling “Did you get what you wanted?!”  Closing track “Gemini” finishes with another spoken word style banger with Beeler stating “I retain the right…” followed by a series of feelings and actions accompanied by chaotic guitar and drums alongside Ben Stidworthy’s steady bass lines which drive Ought’s explosions of expression.  At the end, “Gemini” sounds like Beeler’s last breath as he finishes an already strong album with a powerful and pulse driving closer which ends so abruptly it leaves you begging for more.  Luckily, Ought responded to that feeling and delivered an equally impressive follow up months later with Once More With Feeling.  Check out both albums, I promise they’re unlike anything you’ve heard.

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