TC would like to thank Jay Filichia with skateredcurbs.com for the album review. Cheers!
by Jay Filichia
Here is a band that I was turned onto by my friends over at www.thelocalmusicscene.org.
Tragic Culture is a quartet from Stockton that blends songwriting sensibility with upbeat rhythms, complex melodies and down right innovative guitar work.
Tragic Culture was formed in 2010 by Zach Cantu and are influenced by Oasis Bush and Coldplay. While you can clearly hear some of their influences in their music, they take it well beyond any group they mention liking or are trying to emulate.
The group just released a self-titled album that projects their tendencies to deliver a message backed by sounds that project the message, instead of just saying what they have to say over some noises.
Right away on Oh Well, we get a well-layered intro where you would swear there is keyboard adding to the ambiance. But there is no keyboard to be found, just well crafted guitar lines over Mick Shmidt’s bass line that provides counterpoint and drive. Chris Hall’s guitar is haunting throughout the verse and continues through the chorus. No over playing here, just simple tones that add to make the over all sound anything but simple.
Joel Silveria’s drumming on this track is a nice twist. We get a lot of hi hat work and subrhythms rather than just bass drum on one and three and snare on two and four. He gets quite complex without taking away from the group’s teamwork approach. Notice the tom work in the pre-chorus. It’s additions like this that push the group ahead of the pack, making Tragic Culture a band worth listening too.
Zach Cantu has good tone and timbre and can go to robust falseseto when needed, but mostly sings with power and feeling. The message of the lyrics are clearly heard… I hope It Hurts… while the music builds to a wall of well scripted sound leading to an out-tro that has all the makings of a prog rock hit while maintaining the listenablitly of a pop song.
Creatures is the second track I listened too. I was instantly taken in by the rim shots played by Joel and the Peter Buck (The best right hand in the business, says Mike Mills.) like guitar picking part played by Zach. Listen in the background for the guitar strummed by Chris with the flanger/phaser effect on it. Than he makes it sound like a radio that you are trying to tune in to a station that won’t quite come in. This brings the drab feeling to the forefront as Zach sings, We are creatures of Habit and shows his vocal range once again on this unyielding track.
The chorus is robust with more luscious guitar parts soaring over the power of the group. A break down with bass and drums adds Chris playing some feedback and harmonic driven notes, building Creatures to a powerful message. It’s not just the words here that tell the tale… My god, look what we have done. It is important that the music reflects the mood and lyrical content when portraying the role of the songwriter. Tragic Culture clearly understands this. Their music is right in step with the lesson in their all important lyrics.
A moment of minimalism starts off Slowdown, beginning with more guitars you would swear are keys. This guitar line continues over the verses, which features very nice harmony singing and than goes to half time for the chorus. This is a nice touch as they sing the lines Can we slow it down. Very cool trick guys.
The middle section is where Slowdown gets really interesting. We get some up beat open hi hat and complex 16th note picking guitar, which is dynamic but not overbearing. This is a slightly different feel from the rest of the track and than builds to the big ending chorus. Great song.
All in all I loved the mix of Cimmerian and energetic sounds. While the message is never understated, it is all aspects coming together that make Tragic Culture interesting and a quality listen.