Epigene, Popular Dissent

Epigene, Popular Dissent

Epigene’s latest album, Popular Dissent, is probably the most professionally produced CD I’ve had to review. Everything about this CD reeks of “Major Label” quality — the artwork is tasteful and original, the packaging is adequate, the liner notes are readable. Oftentimes I’m frustrated when I buy a CD because the artwork is so non-conformist I can’t seem to either A) read the liner notes or B) make a link between the visual presentation of the CD and the music. Epigene seems to have accomplished the blending of its artistic vision with its musical tastes quite well. Thomas Swanson (www.worldofshank.com), the artist credited with the cover art, melds traditional painting with clip art in a way that mimics the band’s sound.

That is, Epigene sounds like so many different bands that it’s hard to nail down which direction is its own. When listening to Popular Dissent you can hear 7 Seconds, jazz, Queens of the Stone Age, straight-up punk, power-pop, etc…and amazingly, the variety’s in every song. It’s almost as if, had you heard these guys ten years ago, you would have thought to yourself, “hey, these guys sound like [fill in the blank].” Listening to them now, however, ten years later, it sounds like all their influences have coagulated into a less obvious mix.

Jack Endino does a really good job with the overall sound, as all the instruments find their niche, and you can listen to anything within any given song separately or along with its accompaniment. More simply stated, if you like a particular part in a given song, you can easily pay attention to it with out too much of a struggle. These guys clearly are good musicians out to make good music. This is most apparant within the context of their arrangements, which traverse multiple time changes and melodic shifts in seamless fashion. Seriously, there are some interesting things going on deep within the power-pop and nostalgic punk paradigm the band offers. What’s really impressive, though, is that they do all this without taking attention away from the songs’ inner meanings. These guys seem to be all about playing a catchy tune without being boring and without relying on clich├ęs, and yet they aren’t willing to sacrifice continuity and listening ease in the process. In today’s market, where you either end up with Britany Spears or Aphex Twin, it’s nice to know that there are a select few artists that are satisfied working in the comfortable middle. On a scale of one to ten, I’d give this album a 7 (which is a big deal, considering that my 7 Seconds/power pop days are long behind me).

(self-released; Epigene -- http://www.epigenemusic.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Saturday, October 1st, 2005. Filed under Reviews.

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