The first thing that struck me about their debut EP is that it does not sound “indie” at all. You know what I mean because we’ve all heard the bands. Heck, a lot of my friends are in those bands.
“What bands?” you ask. Indie bands that have incredible music marred by the unfortunate misfortune of bad production. Muddy mixes and sloppy mastering abound in the indie realm.
Not so with How Do You Sleep. I was immediately struck by how clean and professional the production is on this EP.
My next realization was that I only saw two names. I believe I mentioned them before: Rex and Ben. I kept looking for more names, because what I was listening to didn’t sound like a two-piece.
While it is true that the magic of multi-track recording will allow even a single person to sound like an orchestra, the arrangements have to be done well in order for that one-person orchestra to be convincing.
Too often, bands and singers rely on simply loops or loop pedals that start to sound boring and repetitive. Eventually, the loops lose their effectiveness.
Sometimes Chad does it right. While they may well be using loops, the don’t resort to the static, boorish loops that so often assault our ears. Sometimes Chad has crafted songs reminiscent of ‘90s grunge and filled in the gaps with well-constructed electronic elements.
It’s kind of like a grunge band asked an electronica act to the prom.
“Semblance” is the first song on the EP. The song starts with an eerie arpeggiated guitar that gives way to melodic intervals with just a touch of distortion. The bridge is an electronic breakdown, adding texture and contrast against the guitars. Rex’s vocals fit perfectly with the music almost layering in like another instrument.
“I Don’t Want to Live On This Planet Anymore” is a definite rocker. It starts on a catchy little guitar riff which leads right into the verse. Once again this dynamic duo pulls no stops on the synthesizers for the bridge, only this time the bridge actually acts more like the start of an extended outro.
“The Feeling I Get” starts with an otherworldly, atmospheric synthesizer part. Arpeggiated guitar takes over and gives way to a funk guitar part that almost came straight from the 70s. What really struck me was the bass sound. Knowing there is no bassist, I was expecting to miss the bass and almost feared that it would be replaced by an out-of-place keyboard part. What can I say? I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did I not miss a real bass, but the bass line actually sounded like a real bassist was playing it.
“Take What You Want” is not quite as upbeat as “I Don’t Want to Live On This Planet Anymore” there is still enough energy and drive to satisfy all but the more hardcore metalheads. The drums provide a great drive behind the rest of the music, pushing it along to it’s conclusion, right up to the last chorus that takes us to the next song.
“How Do You Sleep” starts like an 80s power ballad. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by the bass and once again, the drums did a very nice job of pushing the song along. The keyboards on this song serve more for texture and contrast, almost sounding like a distorted guitar in places. Instead of the loop being in the guitar or keyboard parts, it’s surprisingly in the vocal. Although, it’s not quite a loop as Rex seems to actually be singing.
So if you miss the grunge bands of the 90s or are just looking for new music with a twist, check out Sometimes Chad.