Friday, January 3, 2014

Tideland Is An Emerging Artist Pick

Not everyone has heard of Sterling, Virginia. It's a small town on the outskirts of Washington D.C. It's the hometown of actress Hilarie Burton (One Tree Hill). It's home to a National Weather Service Forecast office. And it happens to have a thriving DIY underground.

Many of the bands there lean toward hardcore and punk, including a few notables like pg. 99 and Pizza. But not everyone who picks up an instrument in Sterling sticks with screams. Tideland set itself on an alternative music track, picking up more grunge and indie rock influences to evolve their sound.

Their latest release, Lull, is something of a step up with clearer focus, better writing, and more confidence. Although the band has put out other albums, including their well-received debut, Lull has landed them several national and international gigs outside the Maryland-Virgina circuit.

Lull puts Tideland's post-hardcore vibe in check.

Whereas Asleep In The Graveyard and Lost Bets were great angry outings indicative of the bands that Tideland members played in (and still play in) before they came together in 2007, Lull showcases them as heads down for something better described as nineties sub pop grunge. The result is a surprise — eight tracks of densely packed sonic savagery.

Leading off with Starblood, the band sets the pace and tone for the rest of the restrained set. It opens slowly with a patient build before finally filling every inch of space with a hazy wall of pop noise. Inspirations aside, Tideland manages to sink in some alternative newness and hooks too.

Mileless follows, continuing with a barrage of pop noise before dropping into occasionally clumsy offbeat and twangy guitar notes backed by the perfectly sure and steady drum work of George Crum. The band gets lost in the minimalism of the music before filling every channel with noise and throaty vocals.

By the time anyone digs into Carved In Mine, the reverb heavy dual vocals start to feel too strained. It's not always easy to immediately pull out their deep reflective meanings, but that will come in time. Jon and Chris share the vocals on most tracks, which can be a shame. They don't always sound as sharp together as they do apart. It could be the conflicting tones, but it's most likely the follow-along pacing that causes the occasional problem.

Outside of Desolate, tracks like Get Lost sound better with one set of vocals taking the lead. In giving the singers more space, Tideland gives listeners a good reason to get lost in their shoe gaze mood. It's easily one of the standout vocal tracks, even if it doesn't have the instrumental force of the others.

Other tracks worth a listen include the hazy indie rocker Edinburgh, the kickback drone of Dinosaur, and the escapist Way To Die. The only downside with the latter is the vocal transition again, which gives the song two riveting directions while shattering its cohesion in the process. It's still a good song, but one wonders how much stronger it could have been without the transition.

Even so, Tideland deserves props for breaking away from their post-hardcore roots to make Lull. They sound like a new band, and it almost feels like this is a second debut as much as an evolution. They even added a guitarist (Owen) to transform the trio into the foursome. Good things ahead.

Lull by Tideland Sweeps 5.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Lull by Tideland truly is a superb album that showcases this band's potential as an addictive indie pop-rock noise outfit. Sure, the sound needs to be fine tuned, especially as the band already has another album in the works for 2014. But something suggests that these Virginia underground vets will find it.

Lull by Tideland is available on Amazon. You can also find the album on iTunes. They are better as a grungy noise-pop band, but their post-hardcore work is worth checking out too. Keep up with them via Facebook. If you like indie rock and pop noise with some occasional punk flair, you'll be glad you did.
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