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Across Tundras: Electric Relics

In an effort to avoid banal comparisons between Nashville, TN's Across Tundras and other existing rock groups, I will provide real-time examination while enjoying this recording. Simply being aware that this group is from Tennessee sheds-light into the group's aesthetic. Although the term "tundra" - for me - has an arctic connotation, the production of their newest recording Electric Relics, the track titles, and genre-blends create a warm, desert-like image in my mind.

Track 1, "Pining for the Gravel Roads," is a mid-tempo, fuzz-guitar-driven opener. This song is a composite of southern rock, doom metal, psychedelic rock and indie rock. It sounds like hot, humid weather with no clouds in sight. I like the feeling it creates.

"Den of Poison Snakes" comes next, the tempo increases, and alternative/grunge/indie rock courses through before a slower, haunting coda ends the track.

"Kiln of the First Flame" is a slow, atmospheric instrumental soundscape before "Driftless Caravan." This song feels deliberately slow. I have the feeling - and hope - that this group performs loud enough that you can feel the speed of the music.

A 12-string acoustic starts track 5 "Seasick Serenade" which feels like an interlude before track 6 "Castaway." Fuzz and reverb could be this bands' best friend and you either dig it or it gets tiring. I appreciate what Across Tundras is trying to create but I think a little more sonic diversity would benefit them.

Track 7 brings in organs and slide guitar to deliver some of that much-needed diversity. The waltz-tempo and interesting chord progression, however, can't hide the lackluster vocal performance on "Solar Ark."

Track 8, "Unfortunate Son," is the longest track on the CD at 8:44. Sonic soup opens into lo-fi psychedelic doom. The lo-fi sound is then peeled away into more slow-tempo "hot-weather rock." The wordless-vocal melody toward the end of the tune does provide a fitting way to end the CD, as if the band is riding off into the fading light of a summer sunset.

There are many positive aspects of this release, some not directly related to the notes played; there is a great atmosphere to these songs and there is a nice combination of American music genres. Also, Across Tundras offers this recording on vinyl. In my opinion this is mood music that one can deliberately imbibe and the ritual of listening to side A and then side B could enhance the overall experience of Electric Relics. I detect great potential for future recordings as this may just be part of the journey.

Track Listing
1. Pining for the Gravel Roads
2. Den of Poison Snakes
3. Kiln of the First Flame
4. Driftless Caravan
5. Seasick Serenade
6. Castaway
7. Solar Ark
8. Unfortunate Son

Added: June 11th 2013
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1847
Language: english

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