Song of the day: Strangely Alright – "Train To Nowhere"

July 4, 2013

OK. I have another album to review, and this time I’m going to do my darnedest to keep this post at a manageable length.

Strangely Alright is the band, and their brand spanking new album is called The Time Machine Is Broken. (Disclaimer: I don’t know if any spanking was involved.) I’ve been reliably informed (by Regan, the band’s leader – Hi, Regan!) that all the songs centre around the concept of time. Which would make it a concept album. But it’s not prog rock. Strangely Alright are a power pop band.

Enough chit-chat. On with the listening…

Strangely Alright – The Time Machine Is Broken (2013)

1. “Train To Nowhere”

First impressions:

1. It’s well-produced.
2. I like the reverb on the guitar.
3. It has some decent tunes.
4. The singing at the start is a bit dodgy. (Slightly flat here and there.)
5. It’s really well-produced.

2. “Just How It Goes”

I like this. And I like the spy guitar from 1:09-1:14.

I think I’m going to enjoy this album.

3. “So Right It Can’t Be Wrong”

Swampy. Sort of. At any rate, it reminds me of “The Honeymoon Is Over” by Australian band The Cruel Sea.

The enormous guitar chord that begins the chorus (at 0:51) reminds me of the monumental chord in the Fine Young Cannibals‘ “She Drives Me Crazy” (1988):

(The gargantuan chord is at 0:15)

4. “Crying Shame”

This album is turning out to be a pretty low-key affair. (I thought it was going to be a bit more lively.)

The more I’m hearing it, the more I’m inclined to describe this album as “thoughtful”. It’s certainly not a “Hey! Hey! Let’s Party!” kind of album.

5. “If I Don’t Laugh I’m Only Going To Cry”

A good old-fashioned Big Ballad, and I don’t mind it at all. (I’m usually allergic to Big Ballads.)

However, I wasn’t encouraged by the opening lines (0:13-0:59):

I drive from work
Beside the jerk
Flipping me the bird
His finger tells me that I’m number one

I had the nerve
To try to merge
And he just won’t let it go
I wonder if he’s gonna pull a gun

The absurdities of daily life
Flash like neon signs
I’m too old to draw new battle lines

Considering he’s singing about being stuck in traffic, I thought it would have been more accurate, instead of the “absurdities”, to sing about “the mundanities of daily life”. But then I got on board with the psychological milieu the song inhabited, because the singer was a-singin’ about dreariness, and I got the point.

Plus the song had handclaps.

2:47-2:50 – Someone’s playing wrong notes, and I think it’s the bass player.

2:57-3:10 – I like the tune for the singalong here.

4:17 – That was a novel way to end the song.

6. “Here And Then You’re Gone”

Dreadful Confession Time: Any song – including this one – that has a bossa nova feel, not matter how slight, automatically prompts me to say “Cha cha cha!”

And so it goes with this particular song. For its entire duration I was resisting the urge to say “Cha cha cha” at the end of each line, which muddied my thoughts about it.

My Thoughts About It: Cha cha cha.

7. “Before The Fall”

This album sure is nowhere near as lively as I was hoping it was going to be.

I’m starting to think of words like “downbeat”, “dour”, “morose”, “lachrymose”, and probably some other words I can’t think of at the moment because I don’t have immediate access to a thesaurus.

2:55 – I’m sure that guitar note in the right channel was intentional, to signify the sadness in the song, but I thought it was just a bad note.

3:50 – There it is again. (And at 3:57.) I wouldn’t have minded that note so much if it was bent, so that it became a “crying note”. (See The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for an example of bending notes for that crying effect.)

8. “Crazy Ride”

This is a bit more upbeat. Thank you, band.

When the singer sings about having read the news “I read the news…”, as do other singers from time to time in other songs, guess what song I inevitably think of?

By the way, how come the past tense of “read” is “read”? I’ve always found that mighty confusing. The past tense is pronounced “red”, so why isn’t it spelled “red”, instead of the “read”? We have “lead” and “led”, so why not “read” and “red”? But we don’t have “knead” and “kned”. Come to think of it, we have “knead” and “kneaded”, “need” and “needed”, so can we have “read” and “readed”? And if not, why not? Is because of some arcane rule of English that makes no sense to me? (Probable Answer: Yes.)

I have a feeling the drummer likes the drum beat in this song, because he uses a remarkably similar one in track 3, “So Right It Can’t Be Wrong” (see above).

0:39 – Nice guitar chord.

0:39-0:43 – Where have I heard that vocal melody before?

2:46-2:49 – And where have I heard that guitar lick before?

9. “Love”

There’s that drum beat again.

I like the sound of the whatever-it-is in the right channel from 0:01-0:10 (and elsewhere). Is it a hammered dulcimer?

I thought the chords played by the guitar in the right channel from 1:34-1:36 were a bit cheesy.

10. “Direction Home”

I’m enjoying this one. It’s perkier than pretty much every other song on the album (excerpt, perhaps, for the first track), and I’m finding myself drawn to it in a “Hooray! A bit of sunshine on a slightly dreary album!” way.

11. “You And Me”

Another perky song. This is much better. It’s chock full of “doo doo, doo-doo-doo”s, and for me that’s a good thing. And I liked the little laugh (3:18-3:19) to end the album.

***

Now that I’ve heard the album in its entirety, I can say these things:

  • It’s very well made
  • It didn’t have as many tunes in it as I had hoped
  • It’s more thoughtful than I had imagined
  • The songs don’t have as much variety as I thought it was going to have. Being a sort-of concept album, I had thought that stylistically it was going to be all over the shop.

Thanks, chaps, for letting me know about The Time Machine Is Broken. And now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll listen to it again – but this time a little less pickily.

Official website
Facebook
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CD Baby
ReverbNation
A proper review of the album at Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More!
An informative article about the album published in the Tacoma Weekly

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