Selling A Dream
by Jason Hoffman
After 18 months of gigging throughout northern Indiana as Yellow Matter Custard, Josh Gaut and John Hubner decided to head back to the studio and develop their songwriting talents. The result is Selling A Dream under the name Square Wave.
Through 11 songs lasting 47 minutes, Josh and John explore the fringes of rock music, combining classic rock, pop and modern rock into a collection of very listener-friendly tunes. True to their independent nature, every song was written, performed, recorded, engineered and produced by themselves.
The album opens with a murky bass and nasal backward guitar sounds with the title track. Driving rock and interesting vocal harmonies in the chorus make this song a great lead off with just enough unusual flourishes to keep it off the radio but to keep the listeners’ attention. “Mulberry Street” is based around an appealing electric piano part and a catchy 70s sound in the verse that gives way to a soaring modern sound in the chorus. This song would be dynamite except for the vocals being unintelligibly buried in the mix and a recurring “skip” where, I assume, they cut and pasted sound files on PC editing software. Fix those things and this song is easily one of the best and original on the album.
Sporting a late 60s almost Syd Barrett-era psychedelic Floyd sound, the exact same bass timbre as the previous two songs and a cool mega-flanged guitar sound, “See Ya’ Round” is yet another example of creative songwriting that dangerously teeters between pop and rock. Elements of later Pink Floyd can be found in the dreamy “Your Child” before the guitars get dirty, leading to a heavier 70s arena rock sound complete with a classic, melodic guitar solo. Another near-radio hit is “Can You Hear Me,” which has buzzing guitars and a bit of organ thrown in for seasoning. The mid-tempo “Somewhere Inbetween” has a bluesy feel and a nice classic rock instrumental section that serves to propel the song instead of the ego of some guitar-god wannabe. At the end of this section, however, is a melody/guitar bend stolen straight from the Alice Cooper Band’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” — fun even if it might not have been intentional. The final track harkens to the 80s with loads of keyboards, robotic drums, relaxed 60s background vocals and heavily reverberated piano in the middle bridge.
As is too often the case with independently produced projects, I would love to hear what these two excellent songwriters (who also show a flair for weaving creative sounds into their music) would be capable of under the tutelage of one of the area’s many fine full-time studios — perhaps only a mastering session with a few overdubs would be enough. The songs are there, as is the musicianship, but a little professional guidance would easily take Selling A Dream from a good album to an excellent one. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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