taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

ANALOG MOON’  Ascent and the Secret There Below

During a brief hiatus following the band’s 2007 release AM Radio, Analog Moon singer and guitarist Todd Britton relocated to Asheville to begin working on songs that would eventually become the band’s follow-up album Ascent and the Secret There Below. More than just follow-up, however, it’s a record of the project’s growth despite what was a practically a turnstile lineup during that time. With clear influences of Akron/Family and early My Morning Jacket taming the torrent of psychedelia found in the band’s earlier recording, Ascent and the Secret There Below is a pretty good rock record, but is still a bit guilty of trying to do too much at times. Twangy opener “Secrets of the Wiser” is built on contemporary jam elements with its slightly abstruse subject matter, simple harmonies, and starry-eyed synth breaks, but it’s a stretch to call Analog Moon a jam band. There are too many layers and complexities here for a tangent to erupt mid-song. There’s a distinct groove to be found in songs like “Soda City” and “Alley Alley Adam,” but in greater context, they’re simply data points on this scatter plot of an album. Each song seems to have its own subplots, however. “Six Ways to Sunny Days” begins as a sunny pop offering before being interrupted by grumbling bass fuzz. Other times, the album assumes the personalities of its other members. Bassist Matt Gentling, formerly of Archers of Loaf and Band of Horses, asserts himself through the driving bass lines reminiscent of “White Trash Heroes” on “Marked for Number Nine, ” while tracks written by drummer Jon Ashley feel sparser and more carefully considered than Britton’s potpourri of gritty, Floydian psychedelia. Even if it sounds like a compilation record at times, Ascent and the Secret There Below deserves a listen.


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