There are (contrary to popular belief) actually more concept albums out there than I think people notice. Of course, in recent times, most cite Green Day's American Idiot as their reference point when speaking of concept albums on the front shelves of their mind. I was even surprised when looking up a list of concept albums how many modern bands have released an album that is considered a concept album. (Alter Bridge? Really?) But when a band is making a debut, rare is the feat of conjuring up a 72 minute long opus of crafty songwriting spun around the silk of progressive rock grooves, soaring lyrics and vocals. Dream the Electric Sleep, a local band from Lexington, Kentucky, has created something new and fresh (hard to do in these times) with a soaring epic of an album about a man (Jack), his wife (Clementine) and their life and hardship as a family in the eastern Kentucky coal-mining era.
Supposedly loosely based on lead singer and guitarist Matt Page's grandparents, each song is sung as either Jack or Clementine reflecting or talking about their life and the trials and tribulations, or narrating a journey of events that sadly do not end in happiness. Lost and Gone Forever is a beautifully crafted album drawing musical comparisons to early Pink Floyd, Rush and King Crimson. Rare does a debut album like this sound so mature and sure of its self without sounding pretentious or overdone.
The album opener, and one of my favorites, "Lost and Gone," begins with sweeping guitar work and image- conjuring song writing from Page. The slow, progressive churn of a well-oiled machine is easily discernable in the rhythm and timing of all the band members, Trevor Wilmot (guitar), Joey Waters (drums) and Chris Tackett (bass), respectively, heard perfectly on the songs "Coal Dust and Shadows." Page's song writing wrenches with emotional tones and sings a solemn but beautifully tragic narrative with phrases like, "Progress is always hard to find, in coal dust and shadows," and from "Canary," "Always waiting, so disengaged/Day in, day out, our hope subsides/Locked away where we reside."
On the more up-tempo songs like "The Joneses," "Roots and Fear," and "Listen to me," Dream the Electric Sleep resemble Rush in their progressiveness and ability to subtly keep changing the tempo and timing of the song while conjuring up memorable riffs and bass lines as catchy as anything from Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee. The harmonious, sprawling songs sometimes clock in at the six to eight minute range, leaving plenty of opportunity for winding instrumental jams to showcase all the members' skills on their particular instrument.
Two other highlights in the sad tale of Jack and Clementine's coal mining life and memories are the back to back haunting tracks of "Echoes chasing echoes," which begins winding its way acoustically and ascends into a heavier and effects-laden guitar drive that, in its best moments, plays like a slow death march of coal miners in full gear scuffling in and out of their earthly tunnels day after day. While the album closer, "What will be," plays like a collecting of lost memories over acoustics, sung in the character of Clementine as she laments her loss and life through the harsh terrain of eastern Kentucky's lost coal mining culture.
The album is long, and does get lost at times amid its bid at such a wide-ranging single story arc, though Page's lyrics and ability to add emotional depth to each verse is near sublime. One wonders if there is enough catchiness within their driving riffs to sustain a listener for this 72 minute long storybook-like musical installment.
As a debut album Lost and Gone Forever is as mature and precise in knowing what it is and reaching to greater heights in song structure and verse than most bands can accomplish with numerous releases over a longer period of time. Sometimes I felt the album was a little bit too downtrodden. Not to take away from what Page and the band is deliberately crafting for us, but I was left with an empty feeling of nostalgia, whereas the warmth of nostalgia, even though turbulent and dark times with most likely a negative end, is what listeners, and for the most part humans at large, look for. At any rate, the genius of this album is evident from the first stroke to the last strum of the strings. This album is well worth its price to take a chance on; for those who gravitate toward progressive, intelligent structure or emotional and in-depth song writing, Lost and Gone Forever is a hidden gem buried beneath the bulk of dust and soot that is today's surface music
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Reviewer Bio - Tim Rosini is part of the editorial team at Onlinerock team. Having a background in English literature with a concentration in creative writing, Tim found himself working for various magazines and websites after moving out to the west coast last summer. Having the ability to adapt his focus from business writing to creative fiction he has found a great place to exercise his passion for music on the onlinerock website.