Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Almost Finds Fear Inside Of Bones

Aaron Gillespie and The Almost did something few rock bands do. They holed themselves up in a small room at Omni Studios in Nashville for five days and played 11 songs front to back until they had an album. The resulting live studio album, Fear Inside Our Bones, is a foray into thunderous and sometimes gritty rock.

"It's something none of us have ever done and with the time crunch, we were surprised how tight of a live band we've finally become," said Gillespie. "Thematically, we bounced the entire record off using anxiety as our backboard."

The sound on Fear Inside Our Bones is more urgent and rock-driven than their sometimes popish sophomore album, Monster Monster. It recaptures the freshness The Almost possessed when they released Southern Weather in 2007 while showcasing how the band has matured at the same time. They definitely feed off each other's energy when they play live, even in a studio. You can feel it.

The song Ghost is an addictive album opener, with its heavy refrains and unbridled bluesy base. Gillespie uses all of it to his advantage, giving his vocals some lift in order to soar above it. The lyrics have depth, splitting the chorus and verse into present and past.

The hardship theme of it, someone with nothing to lose but barely hanging on, rolls over into the third track too. Although more radio friendly with straightforward and repetitive lyrics, it's the Southern rock roots vibe that holds the song together like dirty rice. Overall, I'm Down makes for a great pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps rock song.

The title track, Fear Inside Our Bones, is bookended between those openers. It opens with one of the softer rock moments on the album before revealing some bristle one minute into the song. The band alternates between pop and rock throughout it. The best element is the chorus, even if it promises that the song will play dirtier than it ever does.

The balance of Fear Inside Our Bones has highs and lows. 

Never Be Like You and Come On cut two ways, depending on your point of view. Fans will hear two tracks that suggest the band comes into its own on the album, settling into a groove that sounds like the band. Others will hear something else. Although both songs have their moments, there is a sense that they're only going through motions — taking a break between better tracks.

The Almost gets back on track with The Florida Sun. The underrated ballad might revolve around the Sunshine State, but it proves more accessible in that it can reach anyone reminiscing about whatever place they consider home. It's one of Gillespie's most personal and intimate tracks.

As the sixth track, The Florida Sun marks the halfway point of the album. Fight Song, Won't Let Go, and So What  revive the never-give-up attitude of Fear Inside Our Bones. Each gives The Almost a slightly different rock vibe: urgent, brooding, and tight. Love Is Coming is the most obvious Christian rock song in the mix and Lonely Boy breaks ranks as the weakest closer in memory. Seriously, skip it.

Overall, Fear Inside Our Bones is Gillespie's best work to date as a singer-songwriter. It also demonstrates how far the band has progressed with Dusty Redmon (guitar), Jay Vilardi (rhythm guitar), Joe Musten (drums), and Jon Thompson (bass). While there is obviously more room for maturity, there isn't any question that recording straight to tape was the right call.

Fear Inside Our Bones By The Almost Picks Up 4.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Fear Inside Our Bones promises to pick up some of its earliest supporters, especially those who thought the last album was a little too polished. This time out, there is an ever-present honesty in every song that works. And while it is too bad that not every song works, some tracks are clearly winners.

Fear Inside Our Bones by The Almost is available on Amazon. You can also download it from iTunes or pick it up from Barnes & Noble. The Almost is currently touring on the West Coast, with plans to head south in July. You can find the band's touring schedule on Facebook.
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