Epigene: A Wall Street Odyssey (The City, The Country and Back Again)


RIYL: The Who, Rush, Yes

On paper, I should like this album.  It has many of the elements I like in rock music:  big themes, a narrative, and prog-rock flourishes.  But this is quite possibly the worst album I have heard in this genre for a long time – and yet I admire the moxie of Epigene, the husband and wife duo of Sean Bigler and Bonnie Lykes. I mean, who has the balls to produce a two-CD concept album – especially in 2010?  Well, I think we know the answer to that question, but simply producing such an opus of this scale isn’t enough; one has to have substance.  And while the story of A Wall Street Odyssey (The, City, The Country and Back Again) isn’t short on earnestness, it lacks an important ingredient in rock operas: a certain amount of subtly, and a generous helping of hooks and thunderous power chords.

The story follows Yossarian (in a nod to Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22”) from his career as a Wall Street stockbroker, to drug-addicted homeless victim of corporate downsizing, to being saved by his brother and brought to an agrarian commune of left-libertarians where he learns to toil on the land, commune with nature, and find love. After some time has elapsed,  Yossarian finds he’s compelled “go back” to the belly of the beast and tell anyone who will listen about the virtue of land and living simply. Naturally, the sight of a bearded country bumpkin spouting the evils of corporate capitalism, dense urbanism, and the culture it breeds is met with disdain. And even though Yossarian is ostracized for his beliefs, the financial and political apocalypse he warns the city-dwellers comes to pass, and, predictably, a one-world fascist government arises and oppresses the people.  Yossarian (with the help of a bicycle that flies) is able to leave the city and get back to the freedom of the country – believing, in the end, that he has to let each find their own way in the world.

Like I said at the outset, the story isn’t subtle. But it’s not just the story that lacks subtlety. The songs themselves are more mini-sermons than fully formed tunes.  Lacking sufficient hooks, a variation in style, and even some much-needed ambiguity, song after song on A Wall Street Odyssey are exercises in tedium. Alas, it’s a tedium that’s borne out of the best of intentions and ambitions, but falls under the weight of its own bathetic excesses. (Amammi Music 2011)

Epigene MySpace page

  

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Senior Editor David Medsker’s picks

Having children has had a profound impact on my musical tastes. Will it make them cry? Will it teach them naughty words? Will it bore them? Then it doesn’t get played around the house, which has resulted in my sharp turn towards the poppier side of modern. And really, once you’ve seen your three-year-old completely lose his shit when hearing a song with a chorus of “Na, na na na, na na na, na na na na na na na,” it’s hard to push anything on him that doesn’t come armed to the teeth with the pop hooks. Mind you, I think the Ramones are a pop band too, so I’m painting with a pretty broad brush here. But make no mistake – these bands are pop bands, of varying stripes and shapes. If you fancy yourself a hipster, you’d be best to move on and check out one of the other writers’ lists. I gave up being hip a couple years ago, and let me tell you: it’s extremely liberating.

Note: Some of the notes at the end of the write-ups will offer suggestions of which songs to check out. Others actually offer the songs. If you see “Click here for a free download…”, those songs are on our server, meaning you won’t be dragged off to some site that asks you to give up your email address for a song. These puppies all come with no strings attached, so please download away.

Top 10 Albums of 2010

1. Mark Ronson: Record Collection
Ahhhhhh. If I get to heaven, this is what the radio station will sound like. Tasteful drum beats paired with even tastier synth tracks, highlighted by brilliantly chosen guest contributors from Q-Tip and D’Angelo to Simon Le Bon and a devastating performance by Boy George. Definitely gonna ride this bike until we get home.
Download these: “The Bike Song,” “Somebody to Love Me,” “Record Collection”

2. Hey Champ: Star
I’m a sucker for any band that justifies my love for New Order and the Buggles, and this Chicago trio threw down synth pop/rock that, in an ideal world, would have Passion Pit opening for them, not the other way around.
Click here for a free download of Hey Champ’s “Neverest”
Click here for a free download of Hey Champ’s “Cold Dust Girl”

3. Prefab Sprout: Let’s Change the World with Music
Man, what a sweet surprise this was. Originally scheduled to be the follow-up album to 1990’s Jordan: The Comeback, the album was scrapped despite Prefab leader Paddy McAloon already finishing studio-quality demo versions of every song. Eighteen years later, the songs finally see the light of day, and the result is instant nostalgia. He supposedly has dozens more albums on his shelves from the same period. Please don’t make us wait 18 years for the next one, Paddy.
Download these: “Let There Be Music,” “Ride,” “God Watch Over You”

4. The Hours: It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish
This one is knocked down a few rungs on a technicality, in that it’s a Franken-album consisting of the best songs from the band’s two UK-only releases. But hot damn, are those songs good. Shimmering, sky-high, piano-driven pop that addresses the darkness in people’s lives but strives for hope and change. No wonder Nike used one of these songs for their unforgettable “Human Chain” ad earlier this year. Favorite lyric: “I can understand how someone can go over to the dark side, ’cause the Devil, he’s got all the tunes.”
Download these: “See the Light,” “Big Black Hole,” “Come On”

The Hours – “See The Light” 2010 Edit from Adeline Records on Vimeo.

5. The Silver Seas: Chateau Revenge
I’m still pissed about this one. I got a sneak peek of the record months before its release because our publicist is tight with the band. We played the daylights out of it, and couldn’t wait to sing its praises when it came out in April…only April never happened. Then it was July, and when it came out, the damn thing was buried. Why, why, why? Not enough irony or cynicism? I see no reason why the Shins can sell millions while the Silver Seas still toil in obscurity. The phrase ‘criminally underrated’ was written about bands like this.
Click here for a free download of the Silver Seas’ “The Best Things in Life”


Read the rest after the jump...

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Mike Farley’s picks

It was an interesting year for me music-wise. So much great stuff passed my desk or by e-mail from publicists, but something odd happened: my old PC started getting so slow that I literally could not listen to my iTunes and work at the same time. Makes writing CD reviews tough, but makes listening while I work to get a feel for new music even harder. I persevered, playing stuff in the car and also, finally, getting a super-fast new PC recently. My joy of listening to my iTunes catalog and discovering new music has returned. And so, I give to you, my Top 10 albums of 2010:

1. The Silver Seas: Chateau Revenge
There are two songs on this album that can bring anyone from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in no time flat: “The Best Things in Life” and “What’s the Drawback.” Daniel Tashian and company continue to make some of the best music that, unfortunately, most people have never heard. So hey, this holiday season, do something about that. Go buy the Silver Seas’ music, and tell them I sent you.

2. Rooney: Eureka
Editor David Medsker to me, “Hey, I think you’ll like these guys.” Me, after hearing band: “Um, understatement.” It’s just good, unadulterated pop/rock – no whiny kid voice and no Auto Tune.


Read the rest after the jump...

The Hours: It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish


RIYL: Pulp, Coldplay, The Wonder Stuff

To call It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish a debut album is technically true, but a bit misleading. In truth, it’s a Franken-album, culling the best moments from the Hours’ first two, import-only albums, 2006’s Narcissus Road and 2009’s See the Light, plus one new track (two if you buy the deluxe edition). Still, debut* album or not, it’s a doozy, filled with sky-high chorus after sky-high chorus, gorgeous octave-jumping piano lines and one of the most optimistic lyric books you’ll find outside of Christian pop (or Howard Jones). On the opening track “Ali in the Jungle,” better known here as the soundtrack to Nike’s “Human Chain” ad, speaks of how “everybody gets knocked down / How quick are you gonna get up?” In “These Days,” singer Antony Genn (think Miles Hunt of the Wonder Stuff, with better pipes) advises us, “If there’s ever a time we need to come together, the time is now.” In “Icarus,” he opines that “If you don’t shoot, then you don’t score.” They’re not deep statements, but they resonate in conjunction with the music.

The_Hours_04

The band admittedly runs at two main speeds. There are the upbeat, chugging skyscrapers like “Big Black Hole,” “Narcissus Road” and “Ali in the Jungle,” and there are the showstopping ballads like “Back When You Were Good” (a very gutsy song title in a snarky world) and the splendid “Come On.” The big exception to this is the closer “See the Light,” a slow-building, two-chord track in the vein of Pulp’s “Common People.” It’s arguably the best song here, though a thousand lashes to the person who decided to edit it down from its original seven-minute glory. This is beautiful stuff across the board, but a quick note to Genn: the people most likely to buy your music probably have kids, so let’s cut back a bit on the ‘F’ bombs, shall we? It’s unbecoming. (Adeline 2010)

The Hours MySpace page

  

Steal This Song: School of Seven Bells, “I L U”

I’ve been waiting for months to share this song with you. And if I actually read all of my email the day that I receive it – which is frankly impossible if I plan on getting anything else done – this post would have gone up a week ago. My bad.

From the moment I received the review copy of Disconnect from Desire, the fab new record from School of Seven Bells, I’ve been hounding my label contact about one song in particular: “I L U,” a pitch-perfect mid-tempo breakup song that will make Kevin Shields actually get My Bloody Valentine back together just so they can outdo it (though I doubt they actually could). I sent this song to a fellow UK alt rock-loving friend, and she said, “Wow. I’m 18 again.” Translation: extremely high praise. The vocal is one of those simple, ‘how did no one think of this before?’ kinds of things that many, many other bands could take an example from.

Tired of hearing me pimp the song? Fair enough. Go download it, and tell your friends.

School of Seven Bells – I L U

If you want to download a remix of the song, which will hit iTunes September 14 as part of the Heart Is Strange remix EP, you can get one if you’re willing to give up your email address. Go here to check ch-check check check, check it out.

  

Related Posts