Tales From the Wonderland Asylum
The Mad Hatters

by Jason Hoffman Tales From the Wonderland Asylum

Driven insane by the mundane toils of life in small-town U.S.A., four friends from Huntington decided to form The Mad Hatters to combat their daily doldrums. Inspired by bands like Nirvana, Flickerstick and Blind Melon, the gents crafted Tales From the Wonderland Asylum, a collection of 13 rock songs directed at the radio rock market.

Your commitment begins with “Deeper Than Blue,” the album’s single that sports uptempo modern rock, chiming guitars, a barely discernable yet effective guitar solo and a catchy oft-repeated chorus of “And everything will be alright.” All F****D Up” is a raucous, angry song of fuzzed out guitar and enough momentum to steamroll over any unfortunate thing that gets in its way. The first of a couple songs about leaving the small town, “Forever,” lays a solid running pace with the story of a young couple who break up and yet continue to dream of breaking out of the trap of their environment. The backing vocals are a nice touch, lending a feeling of hopelessness to this sad tale. In “Wild Ride” distorted guitars play a good rocking riff and the vocalist (either Greg, Kenny, Ryan or Joe… the liner notes and website omit who plays what) belts out the only entertainment available far from the city lights: heavy drinking.

Not all the songs are rockers. While “Southland Rd” has its aggressive moments, it’s the contrasting sections of Doors-influenced calm that grab your ear. “Waiting” is the first ballad on the album, opening with clean, ringing guitars that occasionally switch to a power ballad feel with heavier guitars that battle the preceding melancholy. Vocal harmonies in the chorus and an encouraging, memorably melody highlight the hopeful “New Years Song,” a song which follows a similar formula of adding heavier guitars at various junctions. The sweet, simple, quiet “Sadness” ends the album nicely with just an acoustic guitar, voice and singular melody line.

Either someone just bought a new effects unit or it was an artistic decision to obscure most of the instrumentation in shadows. As the album was recorded by Jon Gillespie at his Monastic Chambers, I’m leaning toward the latter. In contrast to the hazy sound is the glossy packaging, sporting crisp, clear, bright photos that shout out “BUY ME” to any Alice that happens to wander by. Check out the samples at www.wereallmadhere.net and see if you’d like to join the Asylum to your album collection.

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