Recommended If You Like: Oasis, The Strokes, Warpaint
Angst and agitation, determination and hope: Strange Phases’ music is a lively melting pot of emotional dynamite waiting to explode. Fiery guitar riffs, pulsing synth beds and swaths of additional instruments fuse to create an eclectic, yet mightily cohesive indie rock force of nature.
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Strange Phases’ debut album Art of Restart, out today (10/27/2017) via Respectful Lust Records. The Los Angeles four-piece of Curt Barlage, Monica Mendoza, Patrick Mertens, and Travis Drum, Strange Phases are reminiscent of bands like Oasis or The Strokes, in that they totally own their fuzzy, relentless (and often atmospheric) sound. Who knew garage rock could be so ambient? Who knew indie rock could get so complex?
Strange Phases did.
Art of Restart captures a palpable moment of sonic fury in ten passionate, hard-hitting songs. Album opener “Hopeless Son” lays an engaging framework, mixing a sense of freedom with entrapment. “Participation Mystique” and catchy lead single “Cool” expand the band’s textural content and prove they can bend the lines between rock and pop when they want. Shoegaze and underground elements seep into Art of Restart‘s back half, which begins with the Japanese Koto-inspired “Koto Interlude” and then dives into the drone-heavy burner “Tear the World Apart.”
Itself a work of art, Art of Restart is a remarkably intriguing indie rock debut that never surrenders. Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Strange Phases’ Art of Restart with Atwood Magazine as the band provide their personal take on each song.
Art of Restart – Strange Phases
:: Inside Art of Restart ::
Hopeless Son was originally written for The Bixby Knolls (frontman Curt Barlage’s previous band). The band split in 2015 and so this would be one of two tunes to carry over from that previous project. It’s best described as an anthem for the fall of classic masculinity, which cries out to be resurrected using references of certain popular religious figures. An old Casio organ pulsates alongside a couple distorted and spring reverbed guitars to help tell that story.
Participation Mystique follows the theme of recalling lost societal practices and balances with a title that is quoted from the author Robert Bly in the book ‘Little Book on the Human Shadow’. It’s lyrical theme is that of suffering from the imbalance of modern life applied to the loss of simplicities and spiritualism in a universal sense. This melody is accompanied by the POG guitar pedal which creates the distinctive Strange Phases slow attacking, frequency jumping guitar sound featured in a couple pockets of ‘Art Of Restart’.
Cool is the first single that was featured off of Art Of Restart and the first song specifically written for Strange Phases in its very beginning phases. Its lyrical content was inspired by the painful overabundance of popular ‘love’ and ‘break-up’ songs by being the 180 and essentially an anti-love song that spews self-confidence and inner security within its narrative. Featured on this song is the classic drum pad sample of the LinnDrum featured on Prince’s Purple Rain album. Although, for Strange Phases it has been resampled and the pitch dramatically lowered on the samples giving yet another distinctive sound that can be found here and there on Art Of Restart.
Something In The Water
Something In The Water, the second single taken from ‘Art Of Restart’ would be considered the ‘ballad’ of the album. The words sung on this tune are stated in a self-reflective, uplifting and positive manor that expresses the value of ‘going with the flow’ or ‘looking at it from an outside perspective’. This song begins with a rolling tom tom beat that gives an obvious nod to a certain popular single by XTC and features a live string quartet that helps transcribe the epic revelation in the chorus and outro.
Staycation would be the closest resemblance of a ‘love’ song or more rather a tune about rebellious love and youthful indulgence. As the line rings out ‘Jump right by my side, We’ve got a bottle and a pack for us to kill tonight’ the listener is instantly bathed in the notion of a mischievous adventure fueled by juvenile spontaneity within their grasp. This melody is lead by chords that were played on and layered with 3 different Casio keyboards that were manufactured in the 1980’s for that low bit, gritty frequency that swims around the auditory receptors.
Koto Interlude is the instrumental piece that would split the 2 halves of this album if you would have been listening on a phonograph or cassette format (recommended). As stated in the title, this instrumental features the traditional Japanese instrument known as the koto. The koto used for this recording is owned by vocalist/guitarist Curt Barlage’s mother, who in the past, used to perform this very same instrument in a traditional Japanese musical troupe. Along side of Curt’s koto performance is the distorted bass guitar, effected guitar stabs, percussion played on the spdsx electronic drum pad and a recording found on tape of some World War 2 propaganda/demoralizing broadcasts dictated by Tokyo Rose.
Tear The World Apart
Tear The World Apart was born of a guitar riff created by Arshak Alozian, long time friend of and collaborator (Red Hearts White Ribbons)with Curt Barlage and Strange Phases. The song would soon be adopted and recorded for ‘Art Of Restart’. Driven by the confidently overpowering, stereo fuzz bass guitar, this tune, much like ‘Something In The Water’, again takes the listener into a battle charge through seas of moralistic resistance and social change.
Art Of Restart
Art Of Restart, the title track of the album with the same name, is the companion piece to the theme and message of this record. We are reminded of our mortality and universally scaled insignificance within the rhymes of the lines. Yet the confidence of finding ones place in this life are noted within the closing words ‘Say it again, you’ve got to pretend’. This tune finds the initial use of the baritone guitar on the album which thickens the tremolo-laden 6 string guitars as the shuffle rhythm of the drums rolls like a slow, oceanic tide.
Your Chemistry would be the oldest written song on the album…actually, going back about ten years. A song featured on an early project of Curt’s, it would be resurrected and re-recorded for ‘Art Of Restart’ to be given it’s second chance of possible notability. Of course, in an era in which genuine capitalistic-free, artistic notability is near non-existence. Anyway, more informatively, this lyric contains which seems to be a more personal experience dictated by the writer to the ears. In ‘Your Chemistry’ we seem to hear a story of the ever-waging war between human health and the medical industry. Pharmaceuticals to be exact. A more somber tone is accompanied by glorious synths of all sorts to tell this tale of sadness, challenge and acceptance.
Walking To The Sun
Walking To The Sun is the Strange Phases’ uplifting farewell to the listener on this initial auditory journey encapsulated in ‘Art Of Restart’. It was born of the spontaneous, blurt-out of the same phrase in the title by Curt’s, at the time three year old daughter during a dinner sing along session. From there, the bulk of the melody and lyrics would grow…and grow straight into a two-part sonic odyssey that features quotes of the great astronomer Carl Sagan, accompanied with grand strings to send you off into the deep, interstellar evening.
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art © Wilfrido Oviedo photo © Kyle DeSpiegler