It’s time again for a Triple Feature. I have so many albums that I want to discuss, and so little time. There will definitely be a “best of the rest” type feature near the end of the year. For this post, check out three bands that are quite different: Distant Dream, Hyco, and Magick Brother & Mystic Sister.
I’m a sucker for Polish bands, and Distant Dream is no exception. This project is actually the solo output for musician Marcin Majrowski. He does an amazing job with that surreal, melancholy quality that I love so much, but he offers more than that, too.
Distant Dream is squarely a part of the post-rock genre. While the sound does veer into ambient and metal at times, you can rest assured that you will get plenty of soaring guitar leads and mighty crescendos. I do feel like Distant Dream has more texture and character than many post-rock bands, and so I tend to enjoy this more than most other such bands.
“Point of View” released on September 5th, and it is a grand album. Many of the songs sound pretty similar and convey the same emotions, but everything is here for a towering hour of searing instrumentation and delicate melodies. My favorite tracks are probably “Depths of Despair”, a track that explores melancholy rather closely, and “Echo”, maybe the most magnificent moment on the album. I really like the short closing track “Insomnia”, too, for its colorful keyboard atmosphere. I would have loved to hear more of that on the album. Overall, this is solid release, one that has beautiful artwork and potential for growth.
Hyco comes to us from North Carolina. They have a sound that is instantly engaging and energetic, and so they won me over pretty quickly. The band consists of Nick Marcone on vocals, guitar, bass, and keys, and Kurt Conway on programming, keys, and arrangements. You will also hear Dan Hochhalter on banjo and fiddle on a couple tracks, as well as Will Allen Jr. on trumpet on one song.
Hyco has an eclectic overall sound, and the mood is certainly one of ambition. They play a progressive rock that flirts with metal and electronic music, while including folk accents, which makes sense coming from NC. The band loves to throw in crazy little left hooks here and there, or insert interesting instruments to a song to add personality.
It’s more than just the mix of genres that makes them great, though. The band simply knows how to write creative riffs, appealing choruses, and tightly produced songs. Often, I’ve found myself singing their songs to myself later in the day, and that is usually a good sign.
“Leylines” released on October 16th, and all of the songs on this EP are great. Songs like the title track or “Spectre” are sprawling affairs with tasty central riffs and great song structures, while other songs like “Empire” are more textured, abstract, and full of gravity. “Long Goodbye to Heaven” is a phenomenal closer with loads of melody and feeling. My favorite, though, is “The Path”, a song with an addictive chorus, trumpet echoing in the atmosphere, and lots of transitions. If this EP is any indication, Hyco has greatness ahead of them.
Magick Brother Mystic Sister is totally different from the previous two bands. They come to us from Barcelona, and their sound is decidedly novel and interesting. Their self-titled debut released on June 12th. The band includes Eva Muntada on piano, synthesizers, organ, mellotron, and vocals; Xavi Sandoval on bass and guitars; Marc Tena on drums and vocals; and Maya Fernández on flute.
MBMS plays a Canterbury style of progressive rock. They sound psychedelic, ancestral, and misty, and that atmosphere is immediately riveting. You will hear lots of mellotron, flute, and organ, but they are anything but a copy of the past. I would also mention that their sound is quite cinematic in a 70’s Spanish cultural sort of way, and this is accentuated by fantastic guitar work.
This album is really something to experience. It will leave you in a dreamy state, one that feels fluid and foggy. I love the flute leads that feel ever so haunted and vibrant, and I love the eerie vocals just as much. In some ways, their sound reminds me of Italian progressive rock, but with more of an evocative, psychedelic twist.
There are so many great songs here. “Utopia” is a wonderful opener that feels like the opening credits to a classic film, “Waterforms” has a funk vibe accented by swelling flute and great vocals, and “Echoes from the Clouds” is a soaring piece of eloquent art. My favorite is probably “Instructions for Judgment Visions” a quirky song with poking flute, bass grooves, and a spooky keyboard-soaked ending. The whole album is worth your time if you like retro sounds and vintage instruments.
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