My Lady Four - Everyone Pays the Gatekeeper
Record Label: None
Release Date: July 1, 2009
In today’s day and age, it seems record labels are getting greedier and greedier. No longer do they try to nurture the best and brightest new talent. Instead, they consistently sign artists that will bring them the most money in album sales. This seems to be the answer to the first question that popped into my head after hearing My Lady Four’s debut album Everyone Pays the Gatekeeper: why the hell isn't this band signed!?
One of the things that make this record great is the amount of technical skill and dynamic control that is evident. The band uses dueling guitars (“Your Idea Of a Good Time”), grooving bass lines over impressive drumbeats (“Sometimes You Eat The Bear…”), and the soft sounds of piano keys (“At the Gate”) over the course of the record. However, all of the instrumentation pales to the performance of lead vocalist Brian Schwarz. Jumping from full-on rockers to slowed-down ballads (and back again), Schwarz proves his worth with a versatile voice that highlights every mood conveyed on the record. However, all the technical skill in the world would prove useless without a rudimentary grasp of dynamics, and My Lady Four has much more than that. This control of dynamics is more evident in the album’s two extremes. “At the Gate” slowly builds as the song goes on, and the music corresponds perfectly with Schwarz’s lyrics. In what is easily the album’s heaviest song, “Your Idea Of a Good Time” also displays an impressive amount of dynamics. The band manages to keep a fine line between dissonance and melody in areas where most bands would lose themselves to chaos. Finally, the lyrical content shows a level of intelligence in Schwarz not present in most modern day front men. Most impressive is the thought provoking biblical reference in “And Suddenly, I’m Somebody”: “Without the Pharaoh, what would Moses be?”
Throughout this entire record, My Lady Four show an impressive amount of technical skill, great control over their dynamics, and the ability to write strong, even thought-provoking lyrics. This band is definitely on my radar, and let this review serve as my open appeal to any and all labels to pay attention to this band.