Thursday, August 4, 2016

Halcion Halo – Joke Parade

One of the things I enjoy about writing these reviews is that I've been doing it long enough now that some bands have put out two or three albums in the time that I've been writing for the Ripple Effect. It is interesting to hear a series of releases from a band and hear how they change and grow from one album to the next. I know the story of this release and the obstacles the band had to overcome to put this out. I was expecting something really good and this one does not disappoint. In my humble opinion, this is a brilliant album.

Halcion Halo are a band that is hard to pin down. They are definitely a heavy band, they are rooted in some bluesiness and also have a strong grunge flavor. Throw in some hard rock as well and you have a pretty unique sound. They know what their sound is, they stick to it, and they do it well.

This album is different from the last, “Wild Heart”. That album was about pursuing your passions and just losing yourself in those pursuits. “Joke Parade” is a very dark album, which you notice almost immediately. It is definitely a reflection of the times we live in, especially here in America. The album title could literally refer to the daily news and several of the songs feature some biting commentary on the current state of our society. Jenson Charnell, who plays guitar and sings, is the lyricist of the band, and kudos to him for his work on these songs.

As a band, these guys just mesh so well that to hear this music gives you the feeling that a hive mind is at work. All of the instruments play with and off of each other so well that you know these guys spend a lot time together. Drummer Ira Garrett literally puts each drum strike and cymbal hit exactly where it belongs. His fills are just perfectly placed and his performance here is on point. Eric Morlen on bass holds everything down but does it his own way, with bass runs that complement what his band mates are doing and bringing out the best in each song. Charnell on vocals is a beast, soft and subtle at times and raging and roaring when needed. His guitar work is exquisite with rhythm parts that add so much to the songs and again, seem like just the right thing to play. I enjoy a guitar player who can rip out a good lead, and he can do that, but I dig rhythm work. When I said this album is brilliant, I meant it. Very well written songs and played in such a way that you really can't imagine changing any parts around or thinking, “Boy he should have played that differently”. Great stuff.

It is too bad that music doesn't become popular simply on its merits, because there are two songs on this album that deserve to be heard by everyone on the planet. They give me chills even though I've listened to them many times. Track 3, “Choke Apple” should be a smash hit. The song is just so good I can't even explain it. “Weighted Cards” is a haunting song that seems to drill down into your bones and stick with you. “Gold Teeth” is a social commentary that you don't often hear, and swaggers along just like someone who has to have that gold grill. With a line like, “I like the weight of dirt of my face, I like the taste of gold on my teeth”, it sums up how our society has all of its priorities all wrong.

Go see these guys if they come through your town, and make a bee line to Bandcamp or CD Baby or wherever you go to buy your music and pick up this album. This is a rare album in these days when just about anyone can record music and put it out. This is an album made by musicians who care about what they do, from every aspect of the music from writing to performing. They take the time to give their all to what they do, and we need to support the good things. Give 'em some love.


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