in spite of all the danger
Hard work is its own reward. Maybe, but results are a nice byproduct. The way a local band usually gauges its trajectory is by the slow slog from garage to maybe a party to a small club, then on up through the Òscene,Ó as it were. Somewhere along the line thereÕs usually a recording of some kind, whether itÕs a demo to get gigs or a proper debut release. What most homegrown bands hope for is a little recognition, a lot of fun and some decent music being made. Sketch Machine put in the work, no doubt about it. But somewhere along the line they skipped a couple of pages in the rule book and found themselves – barely a year into active performing – coming painfully close to pulling out a victory at 2006Õs whatzup Battle of the Bands III. How did they react? By buckling down at New HavenÕs Monastic Chambers recording studio and putting together a debut full-length that sounds far more seasoned than a first effort should. In Spite of All the Danger is a crisp, confident modern rock album that should lead to bigger and better things for Sketch Machine.
Great vocal harmonies grace ÒNew Song,Ó with its distinctive melding of crunchy rock with a bouncy rhythm. The song pins down that seminal moment when some kids are so inspired by music that they dare to dream of making it themselves: ÒDo you remember, baby, Ôcause I can tell you both the place and time / I remember sittinÕ in my basement with my daddyÕs records playing all night long.Ó The impassioned vocals and streamlined grooves, sometimes recalling a stern mix of Matchbox 20 and Barenaked Ladies, are consistent throughout In Spite of All the Danger, as is the emotional tone. But the Machine are no one-trick pony. Though the Police influence mentioned in their bio requires a bit of surface scratching to detect, it swims into view during ÒCold Hard Truth.Ó You can hear it in the chorused guitars and clean, metronomic drums, and it adds dimension to the album.
Another slight departure is ÒAugustine,Ó a waltzing, circular number based around a pretty acoustic riff and restrained vocal delivery. It sets the tone for two more subdued songs to follow, ÒNevermind (You were Never Mine)Ó and "Not the One." Sketch Machine return to large-scale melodic rock with the closer, ÒCrazy Eyes.Ó Accomplished and epic-sounding, this song sits on a solid piano foundation and showcases the bandÕs attention to detail and ear for melody and dynamics. The clean, punchy production quality also contributes to an enjoyable, intense album from a band thatÕs on the move. (DM Jones)
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