The idea of what constitutes “progressive” rock may need revisited soon. Of course, no one really knows what it means anyways. No longer are bands just trying to copy the “greats”, but they are instead coming from a diverse range of backgrounds, from metal to pop to folk to electronic. Head With Wings is an example of a band that falls within the progressive spectrum, but comes from a different place than most. “From Worry to Shame”, their debut album, produced by some of the guys over at Earthside, releases on June 1st.
The band primarily consists of Joshua Corum on lead vocals and guitars, and Brandon Cousino on guitars. The rest of the performances come from guests: Andrew Testa on drums, Joe Elliott on bass, Frank Sacramone (Earthside) on electric guitar, Jamie Van Dyck (Earthside) on guitars, and Ben Shanbrom (Earthside) on backing vocals. As you can tell, the guys from Earthside are neck deep in this album, but don’t expect anything as cinematic as their debut.
Head with Wings describes their style as art/alternative/progressive rock, and I think that is very good way to put it. They are certainly not the pureblooded progressive rock that is influenced by the 70s classic bands, which is probably a good thing anyways. No, they portray progressive in a different, fresher way entirely. They definitely have an art factor, too, but I find that alternative rock is their comfort zone. I hear influence from 90s alternative rock, especially, like Incubus or some of the more acoustically driven bands, such Soul Asylum. For sure, they don’t sound like any of them specifically, but my mind picks up cues like that sometimes.
All of this means that their music is raw and passionate, yet also acoustically driven, for the most part. It has moments of heft and edge, and still other moments of ambience and odd structure, and much of it is extremely rhythmic in nature. Many of their songs are prone to a more climactic style where everything builds to an explosion of emotion, usually accompanied by the edge that I mentioned.
I find that the vocals are a huge part of the album, and the band is especially good at writing catchy choruses and huge hooks. Forgive me for this, but Joshua’s voice reminds me of Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum, as well as some other 90s singers that I admire. Yes, that is twice that I’ve mentioned that band in this review, so I hope I’m on target with what I’m hearing. Anyways, he sings his heart out on every single track, and his heart is contagious.
Guitars are super important on “From Worry to Shame”. Like I said, there are lots of acoustic rhythm guitars everywhere that have a very steely sound to them, but there are also more emotional, piercing solos, too. I love when the driving distorted guitars kick in on a few tracks, though, as their sudden presence feels like a wave of emotion washing over the music. I’d love to hear more of that from them.
This album is full of great songs. “Goodbye Sky” is a fantastic opener with a solid central hook and a stunning second half. “Somewhere, Something Gives” is an emotional affair that blows me away every time. I love the subtle rage, the 90s chorus, and the ambient portion in the middle. “In Memoriam” has such a catchy chorus that will dig its way into your brain. “In Dark Motel Rooms” has the most edge of any song on the album, and I love the dark side of the band that we hear therein. Finally, “Treading Lightly” ends the album with a terrific rhythm and tender lyrics.
Head With Wings has debuted strongly in “From Worry to Shame”. The music is delicate and flows organically from the deep lyrics and obvious passion that the band has for both art and humanity. While the album isn’t overly technical, you will find the odd song structures, ambience, and general vibe to be quite progressive. For those of us who don’t really care about labels, the album is just really good music, and I hope they continue to make more.
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