Review: Under Construction Festival CD
The five bands on this year’s Under Construction Festival album have maturity and finesse greater than the title of this festival and album suggests. The CD is broadcasting music that sells itself, and offers no qualms about why this festival for unsigned yet up-and-coming youth artists continues to grow.
This year’s promotional CD contains music from Kamikaze Veterans, Inconsiderate Parking, Sunset to Mourning (who now go by the name Spawn of Cerberus),Solace Awaits and Session One - popular local groups we have come to know well here on TheSprout. They are the cream of the crop of this festival organised by young people from Cathays Community Centre. The festival aims to help unsigned artists get a chance to get their voices heard, and this is a well-crafted promo CD, which can only help the festival’s profile grow.
I took an instant liking to the album and was half-beaming, half-knocked-off-my-trolley as the Kamikaze Vets came pounding out my speakers to kick off the album with their experimental yet mature sound. Think Blink 182 in the early days, but a bit less whiney and a bit more playful on vocals. Either way, it’s a good song to top an album and get you straight into proceedings.
Inconsiderate Parking gave us an innocent, midnight-ramblings-sort-of-piece with Locked Out (Again). It is a sound that I can only describe as "The Kooks’ seafront set”. They impressively combined the innocence of youth (well, they are youth) with the weariness of age (imagine a somnolent white-bearded old man playing a harpsichord on a crate down the docks). Imagine Chris Brown’s Beautiful People video, only in reverse, and sung at the end of the night instead of at the start, when everyone’s anti-climax (or sometimes relief) of going home is matched with disgruntled disappointment as you lose your keys.
The Under Construction team have impressively managed to give us a symmetrical album: the first and last songs are two songs with a bit of go, the two in the middle are slower and more thoughtful (almost summery) songs, and the album peaks in the middle with a much heavier sound by (you’ve guessed it) Sunset to Mourning. Their (not so) pleasant song Lifeless impressed me with its well-sustained beat and some impressive musical breakdowns. However, I feel the complexity of their music deserved more complex vocals. In fact, just audible words would do. They handled such a heavy set incredibly well for a young group, but they just lacked a little experience in adding some variety to the vocals for this song. I’m just glad the CD came with printed lyrics, as I wasn’t sure they had any.
When the next song played, I must admit, I thought the CD had switched to the radio. When you have the words “Under Construction” brandished all over your music (and burned onto my retina), you don’t expect such a finessed, complex and beautiful song as (the aptly named) Lullabies and Open Eyes, by Solace Awaits. It’s a song I don’t just want to hear when I stick my promo CD in, it’s a song I want to hear every time I turn on the radio or TV; every time I hear music! Solace Awaits have produced a rich and harmonious duet with this piece. The sort you’d sing to your (maybe secret) lover either side of a glass divide, with your hands and faces pressed hard against the cold partition that is selfishly placed between you. Or maybe, you’d rather be lying in the long grass looking up at the clear blue sky on a beautiful summer’s day. It’s a song to match such precious and heart-felt moments. These are voices I’m sure we’ll (or at least I’ll) hear again!
OK, you want a song that wriggles its way into your head and out of your mouth all day? Well, probably not. But I’ll Always Be There by Session One comes with not only this health warning, but with my strongest recommendations! The first few notes struck me as being an opening similar to those of the Chillis or Nirvana, but building up ceremoniously like a Guns N' Roses rift. This is not an attempt to encourage Intellectual Property Rights prosecution, it is simply trying to capture and describe a truly unique (yes, I said “unique”) sound with classic bands we all know. They sing with the carefreeness and confidence that a song with a good rift provides. I found myself bobbing like an apple without even realising it and before I had time to consciously issue self-restraint. This song is infectious. It will change your mood for the day/week. And you will love it.
So, overall? Clearly a successful CD from a successful festival. All the bands have some tweaks to make - it would be unrealistic and borderline ignorant for me not to say so. They are unsigned artists at the end of the day. But, my words aren’t dipped in poison - it’s easy for me to say these words when all the bands clearly had potential that wreaked havoc through this enjoyable promo CD. It’s just up to them how much they make of their potential and how far they are willing to go. Who cares if the sound isn’t perfect? It’s Under Construction, right?