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Case in Theory: Cinematic

On its first full length album, Cinematic, alternative progressive rock quartet Case in Theory start off with a bang and never let up. With towering melodies, intricate compositions, and exceptional production, the record flows seamlessly from its gripping beginning to its lovely end (which, considering its relatively brief duration, comes too soon). And it probably goes without saying that the cover is utterly incredible.

Founded in San Francisco half a decade ago, the group consists of Jonathan Posadas (guitar/lead vocals), Tadeo Ramirez (guitar), Ben Everett (bass), and Jamin Bracken (drums). They cite their influences and categorize their sound as "Dredg, Incubus, and Circa Survice…climatic choruses with spacey, intoxicating verses backed by a hard-hitting hip-hop/funk influenced rhythm section." Considering their melodic structures and sharp guitar harmonies, I would add Cynic to the mix. In any case, they definitely have a winning formula.

The first true song on the album (more on that later), "The Night" opens the album with fierce energy and heartfelt vocals. Posadas intertwines affective harmonies into his verses, and the dynamic shifts and puzzle-esque guitar riffs ensure a lot excitement. There's definitely an alt-rock basis here, but the more-complex-than-usual arrangements allow it (and the rest of the album) to enter the prog realm. Conversely, "The Day" channels the same techniques into a more slow and peaceful ballad.

"Run Like Hell" is catchy tune perfect for radio airplay, and the title track does a wonderful job of contrasting heavy riffs with spacey arpeggios and atmospheric melodies (as well as showcasing how pure Posadas' voice is). "The Fall of Golden Gate" is quite hypnotic and confrontational, and "With Open Eyes" is probably the most engaging track (you'll be singing along with it before your first listen is over). It closes the album (kind of) well.

Besides the actual songs, Case in Theory bookend and intermediate the album with instrumentals called "Mavericks." The first one includes some Riverside-esque harmonies over tight rhythms and guitar riffs, while "Mavericks III" provides an emotionally exuberant intermission. Finally, "Mavericks IV" acts as a warm, acoustic-based coda. The pieces give Cinematic a brilliant sense of conceptual continuity (even though there is no "Mavericks II," ha-ha).

Cinematic is an exceptional record, plain and simple. It's clear that the group took their time to perfect and arrange every note, and while it's not a wholly original sound, the music is quite addicting and refreshing. The bar is set high for their eventual follow-up, and Case in Theory is a band to watch for in the future.

Track Listing
1. Mavericks
2. The Night
3. The Day
4. Run Like Hell
5. National Ave.
6. Cinematic
7. Mavericks III
8. Righteous Path
9. The Fall of Golden Gate
10. With Open Eyes
11. Mavericks IV

Added: March 9th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2341
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Case in Theory: Cinematic
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-03-09 08:59:39
My Score:

Case in Theory are a four piece alternative/progressive rock band from San Jose, California. They have been together since 2007 and have released several EPs but Cinematic is their first full length album. Band members are Jonathan Posadas (vocals, guitar), Tadeo Ramirez (guitar), Jamin Bracken (drums) and Ben Everett (bass).

This is a young band and their youthful exuberance is present throughout the disc. The band plays with plenty of emotion and flair and have a knack for writing highly melodic songs. Cinematic is a finely crafted album and shows the band's tremendous potential. The tunes are built around melodic guitar rhythms and excellent lead vocals. Posadas has a fine set of pipes and while never over sings is able to squeeze every drop of emotion out of his voice when the song calls for it. Just listen to the excellent "Righteous Path" to hear what I mean. Besides great vocals this one boasts quirkier guitar rhythms that start on the mellower side becoming more brash as the song plays out. The album is bookended with two instrumentals; "Mavericks" and "Mavericks IV". The former features a melodic chord progression with distorted tones and the latter tasty acoustic guitar, a nice way to end the album. In between there is also "Mavericks III", another melodic instrumental with an atmospheric intro and progressive tinged guitar work.

Other highlights include the post rock leanings of "With Open Eyes" and the poignant title track showcasing the band's excellent vocal harmonies.

Cinematic is an excellent debut album showcasing strong melodies and arrangements and should appeal to both alternative and progressive rock fans. Highly recommended.

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