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Psychedelic-tinged doom rock delivered impeccably by Year of October

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The cover of 'Wastelands' by Year of October.

The cover of 'Wastelands' by Year of October.

The cover of 'Wastelands' by Year of October.

wexfordpeople

IT intrigues me the way some artists merge different genres in a way that, on paper, shouldn’t work but in reality does.

The band at the centre of this week’s column is such an artist.

Year Of October is a fuzzed out rock band from Nashville, TN, but with Irish connections.

Composed of Phlecia Sullivan (vocals), Josh Sullivan (guitar) and James Varner (drums) the band’s sound has at times been described as Black Sabbath with Amy Winehouse style vocals.

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However, there is far more to the band than that and while their debut album, ‘Trouble Comes’ set the scene for them to expand their horizons on their own local Nashville rock scene the new album, ‘Wastelands’, which is under the spotlight in this column, promises to take the Year Of October message to places much further away.

The album begins with the fuzz-filled, groove rocker, ‘Black Widow’ and while the Sabbath influence is evident it’s only in a slight manner.

There is a commercial pop aspect to the arrangement that would be difficult to suppress and the vocal melody is intensely memorable.

The structure of the song is relatively straight forward and in that regard it’s exemplary because it doesn’t need to go anywhere technically difficult.

Sometimes a good, basic riff will do the job just fine and Year Of October is a band that knows that.

‘Greevil’ is a slightly slower tempo track and at times is wonderfully heavy, at other times psychedelically melancholic.

Phlecia Sullivan is a vocalist with a very distinct style and it’s fair to say while the Amy Winehouse influence is subtly apparent, her manner if singing is something most listeners unfamiliar with the band will likely not have heard before.

Lyrically, many topics are touched on throughout the album and ‘Greevil’ could easily apply to mental health and in particular depression.

‘Venom’, despite the title, begins in a very gentle manner but displays a fantastic groove.

It has a fabulous chorus which immediately captures the attention and from a personal viewpoint, it’s one of the standout tracks on the album.

Despite what appears to be a relatively simple arrangement there is actually a lot going on in the song both from a music and vocal perspective.

Around three-quarters way through the song takes on a heavier groove but the tempo stays the same.

It’s a track where Sullivan’s vocal style really comes to the fore and gives it a lonely, blues feel that might not have been as apparent in the hands of another vocalist.

‘My Soul’ is a jazzy, bluesy downbeat track where again, Sullivan’s vocals excel.

The guitar sound of Josh Sullivan is fantastic throughout the album and there is a lovely clean sound displayed on this track which helps to create the overall mood.

There are some lovely intermittent guitar lines placed within the rhythm that enhance the overall feel of the track.

The chorus is fantastic and Sullivan’s harmonised vocals are perfectly placed to make it stand out from the rest of the vocal melody.

‘Wastelands Pt 1’ is a slow-tempo, bruising rocker where the fuzz is set to maximum. The interesting thing about some of the songs on the CD, from a lyrical perspective, is that they could apply to a number of different scenarios.

That’s very true of ‘Wastelands Pt 1’ which could arguably be an observation on coercive control: ‘He talks in numbers, switching back and forth. He's gonna ruin your mind, before you get out’.

‘Wastelands Pt 2’ is a completely different type of track to ‘Pt1’ and offers up a far more punkier, upbeat vibe.

Displaying angst-fuelled animosity it’s a track that could easily be a massive hit on the contemporary, underground cult music scene. It also wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to a futuristic apocalyptic themed sci-fi movie.

‘Out to Dry’ is a fabulous track where Sullivan’s vocals display an eerie, ominous tone while in complete contrast, ‘Cut Me Open’ is one of the most commercial songs on the album.

Very much a straight-forward, middle-of-the-road song it displays another side to the band’s songwriting and also to Sullivan’s vocal prowess.

This, for me, is another standout track within the collection and if released as a single I imagine it would garner a lot of attention. 

It’s also a very personal and honest track in a lyrical context.

‘Fade Away’ is a dream-like, psychedelic number where Josh Sullivan’s guitar patterns are set to a wonderful off-beat drum pattern from James Varner.

A melancholic track it paves the way for the album closer, ‘Buried Redux’, which is another psychedelic styled track with a fantastic groove. 

In many ways is sums up all the music nuances that make Year Of October an incredible band.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


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