Calling For Eden – The Message Is Clear – Album Review
Who is…Matt Kennedy? Does this dude know just how much props Calling For Eden have given him? I mean…I’ve reviewed more than 2500 records here at our pages and I don’t recall ever seeing a shout-out to an engineer being the FIRST priority, which seems to be the case here for The Message Is Clear. So congrats Matt! Apparently you did an amazing job; not only do I almost never hear about the good ol’ engineer in any situation to begin with, but it’s beyond rare to know the engineer’s name before the players in a band. Speaks to a great job for sure – but also speaks to a loyal crew of talent without egos too…I dig all this.
Love the fact that you can hear how the instrumentation of Calling For Eden immediately plays a significant role as “Together Alone” started up their brand-new album The Message Is Clear – from the keys to the saxophone in the distance with the gentle rhythm of the guitar in the background – they’ve got a real standout cut right off the drop. Stellar mix, great production, remarkable build of slow-burning intensity as those of us who haven’t heard Calling For Eden get introduced to the band – I can see three players listed on one of their pages, in the bio, four people in one of the main photos on another, and to their credit – they sound much bigger than either of those scenarios…but there’s really not a ton of info out there at the moment for a band that’s been active since 2013. “Together Alone” never quite flips the switch into anything too hard – Calling For Eden keeps this first track and singer Casey King’s frantic vocal emotions pretty tightly controlled as they ease us into the record. We’ll shout out these other stellar musicians now while I’ve got your attention…Casey’s also playing the guitar, and joining him are Zach Braidwood (Bass/Backing Vocals) & Meredith “Chuck” Mallory IV (Saxophone/Trombone). Bonus points for the names this crew has…they all sound like rockstars to me – so shout-out to some of the moms & dads making solid choices for the future of our music scene too – cheers to y’all, we appreciate you as well. I never did figure out who was supplyin’ the drums – but I really like the sound of’em on this entire lineup, and starting right away with what you hear in the crisp snaps of the snare on “Together Alone” and clever toms goin’ on. The way this track moves so sleekly & low-key while seeming to be so gripping & intense at the same time makes for a highly impressive start.
I’m still not gonna budge on the whole being told when & how to dance thing when it comes to music; you’re welcome to if ya wanna with “Back To The Beat,” I won’t hold it against ya, but I’m good, thanks. That being said, the answer to how I feel about this cut is pretty much implied right there…Calling For Eden…with the capabilities & talent y’all got…diving into heavily explored terrain thematically like this, might not be serving ya as well as you might think in terms of being able to establish that much needed identity over time, you feel me? The musicianship in the instrumental sections of this cut…is straight-up mind-blowing…and the fact that we get about, like, two short doses of it in “Back To The Beat” pretty much makes me wanna cry, no lie. They’ve got the most outstanding part of this song reduced to a mere twenty-second portion of it all…and I can’t help but feel like they’ve missed a few opportunities for their band, and this song, to stand out like it all truly should. Music about music y’all…I ain’t gonna lie to ya and say it doesn’t work – it’s pretty much tried, tested, and true to the nth degree – people love this stuff though, that’s the facts. Ultimately, Calling For Eden is able to put in a convincing performance that at least gives you the impression they’re feeling it just as much as they’re claiming to on “Back To The Beat” – but yeah man, I ain’t pulling any punches either – it’s the instrumental sections of this cut, however few, that contain the most vibrant dynamics and highlight moments. That guitar solo for instance – good LORDY…and we get what – less than ten seconds with it before they wrap this whole song up? What gives? With the talent this crew has, I’d fully encourage them to let that musicianship they’ve got color in these songs a little bit more – there’s no doubt that Casey can sing and we can all hear that – but there’s no doubt this crew can play too, and a bit more time in the spotlight is deserved.
Redemption comes quickly as they right the course with an absolutely stellar cut called “Beautiful Lady” right afterwards – I’m a massive fan of what I hear throughout this song. All-in-all, Calling For Eden kind of reminds me a lot of Canada’s Our Lady Peace in the sense that there’s a lot of artistic ideas within these Alt/Pop songs they’re creating…and much like OLP, or any other band for that matter, some things these guys will try will suit them better than others – “Beautiful Lady” is a prime example of a sound that works and songwriting that reveals some of the best that they bring to their music. One of my favorite cuts on this album…without question really. Calling For Eden isn’t gonna let anyone down when it comes to their ability to execute or create songs that are guaranteed to get their share of attention – but like all things that anyone out there does, we all have those moments where we shine that 10% more – and that’s what “Beautiful Lady” is like to experience. From the melody that runs through the entire song, to the ramped-up finale and deconstruction on the other side of it all, “Beautiful Lady” is a stellar example of Calling For Eden at their most focused, accessible, and captivating – this song is great. Chuck rockin’ the trombone on this one if I’m not mistaken…I love the horns being set off way in the distance and how the sound seems to fluctuate in that space, sometimes more present than others, but always a perfect fit along the way. All-in-all, they’ve got “Beautiful Lady” crafted perfectly and played with equal precision…there are times where you know a band got 100% out of the song and out of the moment, and this is one of those – hooks are stellar, vocals are brilliant, music is bang-on…I’d be looking at this cut as a single at some point for sure…maybe not the first one, but one of’em…it’s got potential to reach a whole bunch of listeners out there & it offers a different dimension of Calling For Eden’s vibe.
“Everybody Everyone” is probably one of the more universally relatable cuts you’ll find on the album as far as theme & concept goes…it deals with respect, hate, love, individualism, together(ism? Can I get away with that? Togetherism seems like a neat word we should have access to.) and more – but generally speaking, pretty much the thoughts that are running through a whole bunch of minds out there across the entire globe right now as we try to figure out how to navigate the future with each other. The brass section is rockin’ it once again, lightin’ it up from the drop of the intro in…silky smooth bass-lines from Zach as well – hella lively too, the dude’s got supreme technique…CK is pretty much on another planet when it comes to the performance he puts into “Everybody Everyone” – lots here for you to love on. Calling For Eden illustrates the confused times we’re livin’ in right now in just about every way…lyrically, it’s one of the most sound cuts on the whole record and dialed completely into its theme – they go with BIG sound here, and heck – they even give you about a five-second bass solo and ten-second guitar solo too! *ahem *cough *cough…see aforementioned comments about taking that for a longer ride – that certainly applies here once again. Don’t get it twisted, the vocals are spectacular – all I’m simply advocating for is that this talented band right here allows the average everyday listener a bit more space to absorb the awesomeness is all. You musicians out there, and those that dig right into their music – you’ll all be able to hear how Calling For Eden is crushin’ it with sensational instrumentation at all times for sure, because they are – but for those out there that tend to focus straight on the vocals once they appear…that’s where I think the music needs more of an advocate. So here I am to supply that, even if it’s just my voice alone – these guys have a killer band in behind the mic that shouldn’t go unnoticed by anyone, and in my heart of hearts, I hope they’ve made that clear to all.
“Floreeda” could be a single for sure…I’d have no substantial objections to that choice – this cut has all kinds of warm, accessible vibes. Calling For Eden verifiably gives themselves a shot with the way that they play every one of these tunes – even “Back To The Beat” earlier on, which I wasn’t all that partial to myself…I mean, the execution is still there, the passion is too – and whenever you’ve got these two elements working in favor of your music, you’ll find success in the court of public opinion out there. Is it just me, or have I been picking up a slight…like…Mike Patton-esque quality to the vocals of Casey King? It’s not a dominant trait…but I swear if you’re listening to the way CK sings, the influence is there. There’s another dude that tends to come to mind a lot in comparison too…well…two depending on the gears that CK is singing in…one Canadian and one from the US – but we’ll get to that when it becomes more relevant down the road in this lineup. As far as “Floreeda” is concerned, you’ll hear the Patton comparison come through in the stylistic swagger and confidence coming through the mic. While I’d make an argument for tracks like “Together Alone” and “Beautiful Lady” being more appealing songs to me personally – I wouldn’t take anything away from “Floreeda” as a choice for a single to entice people in – there’s tons of personality in this cut that’ll definitely catch the attention & the ears of the people out there from the music to the microphone. I also feel like people are gonna confuse what CK does for the Chili Peppers dude as opposed to Mike Patton…please don’t do that y’all, there’s miles of difference between those guys despite similar styles of music at points in time – Mike can sing…Anthony gets lucky. Mike did it first…Anthony did not. Just so we’re all 100% clear. In any event, it’s kind of like Mike Patton fronting Tower Of Power on “Floreeda” if you can imagine something like that…I’m loving these vibes.
I feel like there’s just a little something stopping me from thinking that they got everything out of the maximum potential on “Nothing At All” – but I also feel like I’d be splitting hairs to complain for no real valid reason, so I ain’t gonna – I really like this track personally and think Calling For Eden has got some extremely brilliant hooks on display here. Guitar-wise…probably one of my favorites on this album if not THE favorite in that regard…great stuff happening on this cut, all-around when it comes right down to it. Not sure who adds in the drums or the keys of this band, but they make crucial additions to this cut – “Nothing At All” pretty much has just about everything I wanna hear in an Alt-Rock song. I had a moment here & there listening to this song for the first time, wondering if what Casey was singing in the hooks would be as effective over time as it seemed to be…which of course, you can really only prove through subsequent spins AND how much you still keep hearing it in your head long after the music is all over. “Nothing At All” was like the song that never left me…and by the time I got about three spins in, I was mercilessly hooked on what Calling For Eden created on this cut – their energy here is incredible, full-stop. After repeat listens throughout this past week, I can confirm – “Nothing At All” not only works – it works absolutely brilliantly…to the point where, when I listen now, I wonder what the heck it even was that I thought might not have fit on that first listen. In my opinion, “Nothing At All” could very well be the highlight of all highlights on The Message Is Clear…the sound & space in the music is perfection, and the way that Casey attacks this cut with everything he’s got raises the stakes to the highest degree – it’s a powerful cut and they play it as such…it’s by far & away one of the most melodically intense songs.
“Learn To Love Again” was an interesting cut…I mean that. Listen to the structure, listen to the selection of instrumentation, the way they move, the way they’re groovin’ – it’s actually quite the unique cut at its core and Calling For Eden displays a ton of ingenuity in the subtlest ways here…likely to the point where it’s possible they could pass a few people right by with the cleverness here. They’re drifting between like…backwoods-banjo Folk and the straight-up songwriting smarts, vocals, and musicianship of something like Stone Temple Pilots here – so you can get an idea of what I’m saying – it’s interesting for sure, because that ain’t the typical combination of sound, you dig? Is that even a banjo? Or is it just more guitar – but like…you know…the weird strings? LOL – I never know exactly what goes into the chef’s sauce, but I’m always willing to sit down and have myself a bowlful of whatever – especially when it sounds like this song does. “Learn To Love Again” has about as much in common with Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple album as it does with a late 80’s cool you’d find in something like INXS on Welcome To Wherever You Are…sprinkle in a bit of the ol’ Zeppelin for seasoning – or at least a Zeppelin-esque STP like we heard on their cover of “Dancing Days” long ago…what can I say, this is a versatile tune when it comes to the dynamics it has & the range of sound it supplies. I like that I can hear a lot of Grunge influence on the sound of Calling For Eden without any of these songs actually being a Grunge tune – these guys were growin’ up in the 90s I’d imagine based on what I’ve experienced in listening. “Learn To Love Again” is a really strong song in this lineup all around…it’s interesting, it’s cleverly put together, it’s got a ton of outstanding instrumentation that really makes the music stand out and grab our attention.
CK…crushin’ his part on “Good Morning” – this would be one of my favorite spots for what he brings to the microphone and his own versatility. Listen to the way he’s staged & phrased the words line after line – “Good Morning” has a ton of thought put into the design of its fluidity and flow…on paper, you’d figure you’d almost look at all the lyrics written down and wonder how it’ll all get fit into this cut, or make sense. Yet, yes-oh-yes – it absolutely does here. I’ll admit, “Good Morning” does seem to kind of audibly wonder aloud whether or not it’s gonna be a mid-tempo tune or a fast one, with each player seemingly right on the edge of exploding into more intensity…but they keep it controlled & contained here. This is where you can really hear the professionalism in a band like Calling For Eden, and how the uniqueness they create stands out for the effort, passion, and interesting vibes they can pack into a song – I wouldn’t go as far as to say a track like “Good Morning” is gonna be a single, but this is the kind of supremely stellar gem you find on a record that adds real beef to the lineup overall. The really reveal a major dose of cleverness in their compositional skills here…”Good Morning” might not quite have the energetic spark of a single-worthy tune, but it’s got the slow-burning cool that leads straight to verifiable street cred and a sound that gets the people talkin.’ Personally, I’d probably put this right up there with my own favorites…I think I might be more of the exception than the rule in that sense when it comes to the majority out there, but I can’t imagine anyone really complaining either…that’s kind of the thing about tracks like this where you probably wouldn’t put’em out as a single…they pack a different kind of weight that resonates in a different way, and the energy & addictiveness they contain sneaks up on you.
Don’t get me wrong – CK is clearly enjoying himself in Calling For Eden, and you can definitely hear that in songs like “Festival,” which seem…well…designed to be played specifically at a “Festival” for a “Festival” crowd, with “Festival”-esque energy & sound along with it – and sure, it’s workin’ no problemo. Still…you gotta wonder how much he’s hatin’ on Jeff Gutt for taking over Scott Weiland’s (R.I.P.) position in STP when chances are, Casey would have crushed that role that much harder by comparison & hearing what he can do with his voice on a record like this. I don’t feel like he’s any kind of carbon copy to Weiland, or any one singer really – I just think he naturally sounds like Scott without even trying. I feel…just shy of how I felt about “Back To The Beat” earlier on I suppose; don’t get me wrong, they still sound good – Calling For Eden has no problem in that department, ever – but some tunes are more appealing to our own personal taste than others, that’s the reality of making versatile music that ranges through different styles & sounds. “Festival” still has multiple highlight moments – the biggest of the big hooks here vocally for instance, are incredible. Shortly afterwards, we’re back to playin’ music and bein’ at a “Festival” and we’re kinda makin’ music about music again in that regard – from what I’ve read online, these guys have been rocking live shows from coast to coast for quite some time now…2013 if I recall correctly – I wouldn’t say that songs like “Back To The Beat” and “Festival” are somewhat pandering to the potential audiences they’ll have in front of them over these next years to come – but I sure ain’t sayin’ it’ll hurt to have these in their catalog either in that sense. I’m only telling the band what they already know in saying that playing either of these songs live for a crowd will set the whole place off and take a show to that next level of excitement & engagement – that’s why they were written in the first place, and cuts with themes like this can be traced way back to the roots of music’s history in just about every genre I can think of. Still fun to listen to – I’d reckon that’s the main point.
“The Sounds” would be another great example of the comparisons to Our Lady Peace and why they’d be valid – not everything works out for those Canadian legends either folks – they push it sometimes, and usually that’s on Raine Maida’s artisan vocals. Which, for the record, I’m personally a big fan of – most of the time. They’re very similar in the sense that it’s those falsetto moments that tend to get the best of Raine in the exact same way that’s happening here with CK – the tone is still on point, but the energy backs off significantly to be able to create it…and it’s a trade not every one of us will always be happy to have made – some dig it, some don’t, that’s the reality there. “The Sounds” presents an immediately enticing depth to the atmosphere & vibe that feels every bit as adventurous as the lyricism and emotion become as we listen – and for about two-minutes & fifty-seconds or so, they’re on undeniably solid ground with an interesting track that plays like a great story is told. After that point, when the newer hook is introduced…arguably, to me, the idea of the song gets about 10x stronger than when it started – and for what it’s worth, I think Kasey’s givin’ ya what he can…but there’s no doubt he’s reached the absolute threshold of the peak tone he can provide, and it’s taking every ounce of his concentration to get there. So we kind of end up with what’s a bit of a push/pull energy there…you can still be delicate AND bold of course – we’ve all heard it – but it’s a monumental ask of a singer in any scenario. In my opinion, CK holds his own here…it’s commendable what he’s pulled off and how well he’s done it – I think he might even tell ya the true demands of the melody and songwriting could be just beyond his reach and what he’s currently capable of, but with time & experience singing this song, he’ll find the full power the words deserve, even at their most delicate moments, and I’m confident it’ll get better as they get out there onstage this year and support the songs from The Message Is Clear live like they should be.
There are a couple moments where…say like…on the way into the instrumental sections of “Back To The Beat” where CK would just light up the mic with a near-scream or growl or whatever…and it really works well. Or perhaps more accurately, you can hear there’s something special there that completely connects. I felt like we get a glimpse of that wildness again at times throughout “Easy To Neglect,” though more subdued in this particular instance…it’s like CK rides this edge of controlled madness & melody at all times, threatening to go hard in either direction at any moment…and I like that. Part of me wants to encourage him to really give that wilder-side even more space to breathe and explore…like I said, I think there’s something unique there that’ll make an impression on people…but by that same token, I do this music thing all day long and I’ve already got more than enough artists & bands screamin’ & yellin’ at me too…so I’ll just put out what I have so far, and leave it at that. Green light to get wilder if ya wanna Calling For Eden, I think it’ll work out just fine for ya based on what I hear on this record – but don’t go making any adjustments that are too dramatic – y’all have a great thing goin’ on already. The main transition from verse to chorus is what really packs in the magic you’ll find on “Easy To Neglect” – and were it not for that moment, there’s a chance this cut could potentially fly right by a few folks listening, even despite all the important messages threaded into the lyricism you’ll discover on this tune.
“What A Life” is a good example of what the core fundamentals are for Calling For Eden and what they’re looking to create with their music – this cut would be more of a vehicle for the words than it would be a song that’s probably gonna catch on with the masses out there. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, it’s just the nature of a more complex idea & structure, and the reality of how the masses listen. Hard to argue with the positivity they’re pumping out here…but I’m probably gonna have to a little; I think “What A Life” is a really good representation of who Calling For Eden is and the sentiment found at the heart of the band…all that stuff is great – but comparatively to the rest of this entire set of songs…I dunno…this final track felt a bit more like the square peg being forced through the ol’ circle hole. I really like the breakdown & main transition in the vibe as they make their way towards the end and brighten up the sound of this song to a tremendously catchy & accessible finale…but that’s about a minute’s worth of the 3:45 total, making this last experience probably a little less balanced than you could cite any of the rest being. The brass is always incredible – the band itself has been relentlessly focused – sometimes it just comes down to the strength of the material…ultimately I think Calling For Eden is doing everything they can with what they’ve got in this last track, I just didn’t feel like “What A Life” had that same impact the rest of the set-list contained on a songwriting level. Words are solid – the instrumentation is as stellar as it has been throughout the record – but in terms of what connects to the people out there & what the ol’ brainwaves can handle…I suspect it might take about 2:45 of a ride through this last track to get to the most addictive & insatiably accessible parts it has to offer at the end.
Enjoyed my time listening to this band. Calling For Eden puts a lot into what they do overall, and they’ve got a whole bunch of talent that anyone would be able to recognize in a singular listen – but through the effort & skill they’ve put into crafting The Message Is Clear, you’ll be ready for another spin in no time.
Find out more about Calling For Eden at their official homepage at: https://www.callingforeden.com
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