Socratic - Socratic
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: January 10th, 2012
The date was Saturday, September 10th and it was the year of 2005.
I had just purchased tickets to go see The Exorcism of Emily Rose with a few high school friends, which was released the day before. After the movie I had followed my previous intentions of the evening and headed over to the local FYE to pick up Socratic's first full-length album released by Drive-Thru Records entitled Lunch For The Sky. The album was released just three days prior to the aforementioned film. Excluding the time frame of which they were made public, these two things remain completely unrelated. One of which I have yet to revisit due to the fact that it was terribly drawn out and just not very good at all, while the other remains in constant rotation in my life, and something I still hold very dear to me to this day.
It shouldn't be too difficult to identify the two.
Drive-Thru Records is almost single-handedly responsible for the taste in music that I listen to today. Never before have I been so enthusiastic over a record label that I felt compelled to check out any new act that they sign, and ultimately fall in love with them. Socratic was no exception. The buzz began in 2004 when they were first signed to the label, who would go on to release Lunch for the Sky in 2005, the Just Turn EP in 2006, and Spread The Rumors in 2008. Each release was different from the next but each continued to embrace that signature sound that had first caught my attention. Drive-Thru Records would eventually become null and void and every band that used to be a part of that family either signed to a major label, or hasn't been heard of in nearly three or four years.
For that reason, it's always a huge pleasure for myself when a band comes out from the woodwork of that broken home that co-founders Richard and Stefanie Reines built. My first most anticipated release of the year is finally here, and you'll just have to trust me when I make this premature statement that this may be Socratic's magnum opus.
I know, it feels like a stretch, especially this early on in the albums' lifespan and especially with the deep connection I have with their previous releases.
But it's just that good.
Socratic has been writing and recording this album for the past two years at Soundwaves Recording Studio, which is run by band member Thomas Stratton, and Portrait Recording Studios with Chris Badami. The band is self-releasing this self-titled album, which is reason enough to believe that this album is in no way influenced by the demand of anyone from outside of the Socratic camp. They had complete creative control with this release and it surely shows within just the first track, "The Critics" which serves as an ode to all of critics of their music both professionally or from a fan's perspective. This is the perfect song to kick off the album and welcome each listener back to their unique style. It also doesn't hurt at all that the song name-drops Say Anything front-man, Max Bemis, either.
The dynamic of this album is one of the main reasons I feel so strongly about it. Each song serves it's own purpose, and nothing feels like it was placed within the track listing to fill up space. When typical albums these days usually end up with ten tracks, one with fourteen speaks volumes about the necessity of each song that was recorded. Each track sounds different from the next, from the fast-paced rocker "Sister" to the piano-based "Think In Dreams", there is something for almost everybody on this release. Acoustic guitars also play a major role on this album, which gives the album a really warm feeling that could easily make Garfield smile on any given Monday.
Socratic's lyrics have always been what appealed to me the most, as they have a certain essence to them that you don't find very often. It isn't often that the lyrics rely on metaphors or smiles to help tell a story, but instead they are very straightforward, and vocalist Duane F. Okun holds nothing back when displaying his emotions. These are his thoughts, these are his stories. The use of specific names and places gives the impression that each track is very personable and self reflective. "Give & Take Two", for example, specifically points out all of the problems within our society and all of the misconceptions that kids are currently being brought up to believe in, all beautifully blended together by percussion led by hand claps and and tambourine hits.
"Curtain Call" and "Charlie Parker (Music Will Save His Soul)" might just be two of the best tracks Socratic has ever written. Each one showcases just how far the band has come, and are prime examples of just how their songwriting has progressed over the time-span of their careers. Each individual instrument begs to be the center of attention, but at the same time all work together to pull off an incredible auditory experience. Socratic has this ability to capture both elusive pop music and indie-rock all in one swift motion, and the end result is something I could recommend to any fan of any style of music. The songs are catchy and detailed, the drums carry each song along smoothly, the guitars are all intricate and clear, the piano and keyboards are beautifully orchestrated and all of the vocals feel emotional and meaningful.
My only complaint with this album might lie within the time that it was released. Socratic's self-titled album is definitely something that's going to sound best while being played driving around in the Summer with your windows down. However, sometimes those things are out of anyone's control since the album is done now, not in June. So instead, you look at the situation from the perspective that Socratic has done us all a favor by giving it to us five months ahead of time so we can learn every word so that we can sing along when the Summer months do come around.
The album ends with "The Truth in Lies", where the vocalist exclaims, "I try not to lose faith in things I need;
I'm a soldier made of stone, I wish I could bleed.
And whats the answer when the world's cancer?
Is the man saying there is no disease?
Well who am I? One day I will die.
Truth is gone, but it can be retrieved."
Socratic's self-titled release seems to all be based around a particular idea and theme. That of which being that sometimes the world sucks, sometimes life sucks, sometimes the music industry sucks, sometimes relationships suck and sometimes you, yourself, suck. But it's also about bypassing these faults and being content with what you have. It's about finding the beauty within these things and everything else, and regardless of how much everything may be flawed, you make the best of what is given to you in order to maintain your own happiness, always. It's inspiring and truthful and I give this album my highest recommendation.
Solid review! Just bought the album and looking forward to it. Actually the only Socratic release I enjoyed before was the Just Turn EP, which in the meantime was incredible enough to keep me interested eventhough I could never get into Spread The Rumours which for me was the let-down of that year.