Onward Chariots – This is my confession (music review)

I’ve been cleaning my house today and none of that matters because I’ve been listening to Onward Chariots début album, This is my Confession, and its making everything ok.

I’m not usually one for cheering on the first rounder, preferring bands with a little under the belt before I give them my (very serious) listening time, but there is some decent history in the band, which accounts for such a strong début. Check this form the press release: Singer-songwriter Ben Morss has played with bands like Cake and Wheatus. His poppy punk band, The Pilgrims, charted on college radio stations across the U.S., and he co-wrote two musicals based on the Angelina Ballerina book and TV series. Heʼs currently working on a rock musical about anarchists. Guitarist, Shawn Setaro has played and recorded with The Dresden Dolls, Taking Back Sunday, Bob DʼAmico (Fiery Furnaces, Sebadoh), Martin Bisi (producer, Sonic Youth, The Swans), Sarah Bowman (Rasputina), The Lordz, Alina Simone, and more.

Onward-Chariots

The guys have been playing about since 2009, touring around Europe,  performing at Englandʼs Indie tracks Festival, Athens Popfest, Popfest New England, and other leg-gaining activities, but I couldn’t help think it took kind of a long time to get to this first album.  Particularly seeing as anything they released seemed to blog-spread and they even developed a bit of a fan base. Still, they call themselves ambitious, so I guess we can expect more soon.

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This is my confession is a concept album – of sorts. Remember my post a few days ago about why I still love Queen?  It seems Onward Chariots have a bit of a thang for the 1970’s as well. The opener and the closer are lyric free strong slam fests of tunes that nicely round out the album and give the listener a strong 70’s grounding for what to expect. ‘This is my confession’ as the opener (variations on this will appear another 2 times) is a strong starting track with a thumping base and heavily harmonized lyrics – in fact it has an element of free feeling punk aspect to it also; At least you’d think that if it wasn’t for the emphasis on the harmony. It’s a strong opening and relieves the sound from an early-daze vibe.

03 Mel Gibson

Song three moves into a four song ride that all sound a little Belle and Sebastian which didn’t work for me that well – mostly because I’m not a B and S fan. Despite this, there is a cute song called ‘Mel Gibson’ which is well worth a listen. “You were so cool, you lit up the screen when I was 16, what happened?”  By the time we hit ‘Mama’, (track 7 of 16) the album has shaken that mantle and the feel gets a little more unique. There is some nice electronic experimentation in the track and it gets back to that proggie feel with a bit of those great 1970s bands as influence. A dash of solemn strings that herald a haunting march and you have a real contemporary twist on a very 70’s feel. That track rolls into ‘This is my confession 2’ and by that time they’d won me over. From ‘Mama’ onwards I found myself starting to really like the album.

07 Mama

‘Forever Never Ends’ sounds a bit like Art Garfunkel singing a Billy Ocean song – with a John Paul Young kind of backing. It’s ironically retro with a very cute tongue-in-cheek irreverence.  Other standouts are ‘I want everything’, the gorgeously cheeky ‘Get me out of this party’ (which I loved) and ‘Confession 3’, a no lyrics slam fest of a tune that nicely rounds out the album.

14 Get Me out of this Party

Ben Morss has a light voice that sings into rather heavy territory with a light adventurousness that is engaging. His voice works really well on songs like ‘Mel Gibson’, and has a lovely lilt to it that makes it bell-like at times in the earlier tracks.  On the whole its a decent first album, with some really great moments.

But, isn’t that what we want from a début?

The release date for Onward Chariots This is my Confession is January in Europe and the US.

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