At Sea - A New Machine
Record Label: Creative Entertainment Network/RED Distribution
Release Date: September 25, 2012
According to lead singer and guitarist, Jason Brody, the band name “At Sea” refers to an ongoing journey. Although likely named for personal reasons, their debut album, A New Machine, takes you on just that. From infectious hooks to acoustic ballads, each and every track gives you something to remember. The thing that’s most striking about the songs is the subject matter; the lyrics are inspired by recent natural disasters, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the whitewashing of New York’s culture. The songs are fresh and contain no clichés, making each and every line unpredictable and exciting.
The journey begins with “The Past Is a Drug,” which is not only welcoming and catchy, but also introduces you to Brody’s exquisite vocals. The falsetto-centered chorus is complimented perfectly by a synthesizer line that highlights the vocal hook but at the same time ventures far enough away from the melody to create the perfect contrast. Next up is the radio friendly “Everything Looks Better in the Dark.” The dueling guitars, synths, and punchy kick drum, supporting what is perhaps the catchiest melody on the record, create the perfect dynamic shift from a melancholy verse to a pounding and likable refrain. That’s just one of those tracks that require more than one listen at a time, a “repeater,” as I like to call it.
Following two of the album’s catchiest numbers is the near six-minute long title track, “A New Machine,” one of the record’s highlights. The lyrics are specifically inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, with Brody crying out “this town belongs to us, from the bottom to the top,” in the chorus. The track includes a breakdown composed of mainly strings that could have been grabbed right out of the score for an action movie. The section greatly contradicts the uplifting chorus, causing tension to get the message of the song across. After the title track, the album has a change of pace. Featured in the heart of the record is a surprising and unexpected cover of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way,” off of the classic Nevermind. While much more could have been done, the band played it safe and nearly replicated the original, but at the very least did it justice. Perhaps it’s better to leave something like that be.
Even if you didn’t think it was possible, the album gets stronger as the journey approaches its end. Another highlight is the lengthy “Burning in His Skin.” Slightly reminiscent of something Jimmy Eat World would release, the song is driven primarily by drums and a fuzz heavy bass and features no poppy hooks, but only the beautiful imagery of Brody’s lyrics and the incredible dynamics of the band. Following that is the mellow, electric piano based “ Prove Me Wrong.” The spaced out guitar plucking creates such a soothing and relaxing atmosphere that is unlike anything else on A New Machine. It leads you in flawlessly to the end of the journey, “These Stolen Hours.” It ends the record on a happier note, sending us off with some hope after the dreadful events referenced in the lyrics of the preceding songs.
“It’s also easy to forget that any music we make and listen to was inspired by music that was made from a more political and reactionary point of view. There was an intent behind it all that’s no longer there,” says Brody when referring to the apocalyptic undertone that his songs contain. He brought that intent back with this record, and it was a breath of fresh air for someone like me (along with the majority of listeners today) whose music collection is mostly composed of songs about love and heartbreak. If this record and band receives the attention they deserve then no doubt about it they could be huge. This album has flow, which is one of the biggest things I consider when looking at a record as a whole. Every song is different, but they’re one in their own way. A truly incredible journey.