Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Album Review: Good Tiger - "A Head Full of Moonlight"

In an era when nostalgia runs rampant around every corner, it’s refreshing to find a new band with a new idea and a new direction.  Formed in 2015, Good Tiger assembled a collection of musicians from lesser-known but highly professional bands and started walking down a path of dynamic hard rock that incorporated a lot of different elements from all across the spectrum.  With some word of mouth and a crowd-sourced recording budget, the culmination of all these efforts is “A Head Full of Moonlight,” as ambitious a debut album as one can imagine.

Good Tiger has a lot going on.  Jumping a head a little bit, the star of the show is drummer Alex Rüdinger, who in each and every track shows the capacity to clap out thunder, instantly change pace and tone and alter his signature seamlessly.  He provides the meaty backbone of each track, providing a stable bass for tunes like “Snake Oil,” and weaving a percussive tapestry for “I Paint What I see.”  Everything builds off of his success.

Which then brings to the borderline progressive nature of the melodies.  Single “Where Are The Birds” begins with an airy, echoed staccato guitar picking, which is ultimately accompanied by a throaty but clean bass riff, each element separate and distinguishable in its own right but still obviously working in concert with each other.  This dynamic continues for the entire record, and while the experiment doesn’t always gel, “A Head Full of Moonlight” never fails to be at least academically interesting.  It’s a testament to the band’s skill that musicians who are learning to compose with each other for the first time can be so compelling and varied.

The garnish on this record is the vocals of Elliot Coleman, once a member of TesseracT and now an integral piece of the Good Tiger puzzle…

This is where the sky darkens considerably for this promising debut album.

Coleman’s vocals are ill-suited for the music beneath him, as he demonstrates little versatility or adaptability in his performance.  There is a single moment where the music rises to meet him, for the single “Aspirations” right in the middle of the record, but beyond that, what’s going on beneath Coleman is always more interesting than what he’s doing himself.

His voice isn’t shrill, but it is thin and surprisingly child-like in performance, sailing carelessly through the upper ranges but never quite sounding on point with the desired effect.  The end result is entirely off-putting; durational tolerance for Coleman’s vocals will vary depending on disposition and inclination, but the maximum seems to be about twenty minutes in a single sitting before there needs to be a break.

Which is all the more disappointing because so much of “A Head Full of Moonlight” carries so much promise.  In the end though, the idea of Good Tiger’s debut is superior to the debut itself.

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