1000 Miles From Home, Collusion
Collusion, a recent six-cut EP from Dallas-based band 1000 Miles From Home, features Zac Carrington (lead vocals/guitar), Jeff Widman (guitar/vocals), Eddie Castillo (lead guitar), Chris Bender (bass), and Keith Mitchell (drums). The bandmates originally hail from different US cities in all geographical directions. This group itself, like their current city of choice, functionally exists as a veritable hub that has brought together a very impressive pool of day-job-working musical talent. They regularly describe themselves as just five regular dudes playing regular music that you can really get into. Humility aside, if you actually buy-into this idea pre-listen, then get prepared to be greatly surprised. I found very little about the band or their music that I would consider all that plain or (ugh!) usual. In fact, I would dare say that they’re probably one of the better unsigned bands I’ve heard in quite a while. Their six-pack of a preview collection should prove to be a real gem for hard rock music fans who enjoy tunes that skirt the area between very early grunge and post-alternative content.
The album pretty much explodes into motion like a Texas thunderstorm with “The Man,” a double-bassing, heavily back-beated hard rocker that jumps right out at you in a hefty, Nickelback-ish barrage. It includes a slice of great lead guitar work, reminiscent of steely-edged ’70s arena rock frettings. This first track, seemingly alluding to stalking voyeurism or a close cryptic facsimile, excellently sets the tone for the rest of the album. As maintained throughout all of the remaining material, it also introduces the group’s inclination toward mixing upbeat instrumental scoring with rather angst-filled lyrical focus. This curious combo, as contradictory as it sounds, invokes a weird sensation in effect: you’re pumped-up by the pounding tempos, but somewhat sympathetically and subliminally heart-string-tugged by the vocalized poetry at the same time. Such a contrasting element would be a rare move for any band, yet stylishly pulled off here.
Another rather odd characteristic of 1000MFH is the way they meld the presence of vocals and instruments together in the mix. In essence, while the instrumentation is belting you in the face like a punching bag, the vocals are elegantly soothing out your blow-wearied brow. Even when singing loudly, the melody comes off as a relatively smoothed-out compression of energy. The total sum of all of these contrary aspects actually fits together very nicely, like the top and bottom reaches of a sine wave form; in this case, creating a sonic sample that’s quite pleasing, though perhaps a bit unconventional. Somehow they’ve managed to round-up all this non-conformity into a fairly universally-patterned, multi-song motif.
The next installment, “Explain The Explanation,” my personal fave, charts a slightly different course, kicking-off with a moderately rolling, flowing rhythm, offset by twinned guitar riffs acting as a musical metronome in the background. By the time you’re wafting along with an acoustic that strums in to carry the verse, you’re abruptly ushered right into a relentlessly-hammering chorus. I still find myself mentally replaying the catchy melody in it, even now. The words are etched-in too: “All that’s left in my head / I remember one thing, I missed what you said / All that’s left to be said / Was her faint breath misread.” Be warned: if this gets airplay, the whole country could become thusly affected by this hooky song.
The band rounds out the EP with “Betrayal,” with repetitive intro-riffs that exude a softened punk/power pop chemistry, the even darker-emoted “Confiding In Pylons,” with its cadence-filled percussion under-girtings , “When You Go,” a very interesting cross of Green Day-type arrangement with pseudo-emo sounds, and “Long Drive To Texas,” apparently a sonic-poetic take on vacant mind journeys taken during boring highway travels.
1000 Miles From Home may have a bit more of a trek ahead of them before they can officially say they’ve actually arrived home. Be that as it may, they already display an amazing array of talent and songwriting ability for a group of musicians in the entry-level trenches. I have a sneaking suspicion that they have far more musical range under wraps than what is displayed in the narrow groove of rock content that they’ve shown so well on this first recording showcase. We’ll see. I’ve marked my calendar to hear them when they come to Houston, and I recommend you do the same when they’re in your neck of the woods. In the final analysis, I just couldn’t help it. I found myself hopelessly becoming an unwitting party to this band’s musical “collusion.”