Resilient – Imagining Things – Album Review
A burst of lo-fi sonic-fury begins Imagining Things…the new album you’re addicted to but just don’t know it yet, being released this July from four-piece band from Philly, Resilient. I’ve been a long-standing supporter of female-led Rock-music…and chances are, I always will be. While I like to think that much of that is the influence of Kurt Cobain from back in my day…I also like to think maybe I’d have been smart enough to get to that place on my own – but I guess I’ll never be able to know that for real. It’s ingrained into my brain like I was born with it at this point.
Don’t get me wrong though…it’s not like you just get to be a woman in Rock music and gain my approval – you still have to be awesome, just like any guy would have to be too. In a ¾ split – Resilient is made up of mostly women with Erin (Lead Vox), Katie (Drums, Backing Vox), Alicia (Bass, Backing Vox) and one dude, Buckminster (Lead Guitar). Not only are the players in Resilient completely rad – they’ve got a specific sound and unique style that is truly a refined & defined one – even though they’re just about to get this whole machine rumbling with their debut album release. Imagining Things is one of the easiest albums to get into that I’ve been fortunate enough to discover this year.
As “Devil In The Details” begins…you’ll quickly notice that they’ve got something that the others out there often don’t…Rock-music in my opinion, in general, is rarely captivating like this is. First of all – Katie Fox…I love you! Drums are a large part of Resilient’s sound and she’s not fucking around back there on the throne – she quickly proves that she could outplay almost any competitor that would come her way on this first-cut alone as she pounds out a searing hi-hat heavy beat that makes her sound as if she at the very least, has three arms if she ain’t a full-on octopus. There’s real writing in the drum-lines of Resilient…and I think that a big band with a sound you can call their own truly always has one of these sitting at the back, driving the songs along with versatility – and this is extremely true when it comes to Resilient and Katie’s drums. You’ll certainly notice the lead-guitar line’s massive hooks as well on “Devil In The Details” – it’s right up-front and in your face as this album begins…and I’d reckon that between Buckminster and Katie alone, you’d be impressed enough to dig the music of Resilient. You factor in the stunning & rhythmic vocals from Erin…which sound like they’re truly another instrument in the band…and the incredible harmonies that the band forms when they put themselves together – and you’ve got the winning recipe that forms this opening tune. If anything…I’d have liked to potentially hear Alicia’s bass rumble through this a bit more than it does…but at the same time, we will certainly hear her more as the album plays on…and I think that really, she’s there enough to support the sound of this first track. As musicians…it’s of course important to remember that in a band situation, it’s impossible to stay in the spotlight throughout the entire song, or album, and the key to remaining humble is to do what’s right for the overall vision and sound of the band itself – and I think that’s an objective understood and a mission accomplished early on in this record.
Besides…it won’t take more than a song-switch from the opening tune to the second one to rectify that bass volume…and if that’s what you’re listening for in your music, have no fear – Alicia is more than present and killing it on “No Show.” All of these songs have Erin’s vocals set so deep into the mix that the music of Resilient sounds freakin’ gigantic…and in my opinion, that’s a good idea for Rock-bands to do. You’ll hear her break through the mix at many points…just the way a powerhouse singer is apt to do. Setting a weak-ass singer deep into the mix like this would potentially be a disaster-scenario for a singer without the power to really kick ALL the ass – and thankfully, that’s not the case with Erin whatsoever. I think they’ve got this one perfect…not just talking about the song…I’m talking about the entire album here…Erin is beautifully inside of the music and she sounds AMAZING right where she is throughout the whole record. “No Show” is a wicked, bass-led tune that switches and transitions with incredible skill and bursts of sound whether it’s switching to the distorted guitar-fueled chorus, or keeping it all cool through the jazzy-nature you’ll find in Alicia’s bass-line as the music drops-out around her and back into the verse. The dynamics in this song…and so too, this entire band…are freakin’ fantastic – they’re right on a level I can appreciate and understand…and it probably goes without saying at this point, fully enjoy and fully consume quite happily.
In my usual not-so-humble opinion…there are songs that get to be title-tracks…and there are songs that take an album by storm; defining songs and moments whereby what other conclusion could you possibly draw to other than to make it the title-track for the entire album? “Imagining Things” is one of those songs that’s massively worthy of being the album’s centerpiece…and a song that has anyone out there potentially dismissing this band as ‘just more Rock’ will get an entire face-load of reasons as to why they’re NOT. “Imagining Things” borrows from Rock, Alternative, Indie and Pop even…adding to the diverse nature of their versatile rhythms and grooves and transitioning with intensity between sounds, styles and parts written into their music. It all sounds, at least to me, like painstaking efforts all made to pay-off as well as they end up doing…you can tell this band has mulled over each and every second of this entire record, and as a result, it sounds like every dimension, angle and possibility have truly been explored. Love the guitar sound in “Imagining Things” and how it envelops the music as it switches into gear early on…Katie is kept employed full-time in the back on the drums as they make incredible transitions throughout this entire tune – and Alicia is right in there with a hugely powerful and groovin’ bass-line that accents and supports this cut perfectly. Erin…who has already blown our minds several times by this point…seems to find all-new ways to rise to the occasion on this title-track – and is it just me, or does she just get like, insanely better with each level of volume in the music raising up around her? It can’t just be me…and I think this band is more focused than a great many out there – they know exactly what they’re doing and they truly own their sound. Erin is a flawless singer…and I think she nails her part in “Imagining Things” impeccably, without a single fault to be found. The more the music comes up, the more free she becomes to really belt it out – and with huge audible-confidence you can completely hear – she rises to the occasion each time it’s presented on this record.
“Not Gonna Be” is a solid track to follow-up their amazing title-cut. I wouldn’t think that’s a reference to the fact that it’s “Not Gonna Be” as powerful potentially as the track you heard just before it…but they do switch up their sound once again here in favor of some slow-burning intensity. If my ears are correct…I’m pretty sure this would be one of the songs featuring the cello, played by guest-star Desiree Haney, who sounds wonderful here in this song. “Not Gonna Be” is much more different than the rest…it moves like water and keeps a fluid sound rolling through the Rock. It’s a stranger tune as well…in the sense that many of the times I spun this album, I found that the hooks were more memorable than some of the others…but in general, this entire track kind of sneaks up on you. On those first listens through Imagining Things…I was thinking I wasn’t sure what exactly stood out to me in “Not Gonna Be” writing wise…yet multiple-spins later, this became a highly-memorable and sought-out sound on the record. Erin…or whomever is responsible for the vocals that drift right into the music here…I mean…that’s fucking fantastic to listen to! I can’t be alone in this…that’s pure-awesome.
“I’m Onto You” has a completely defined guitar-line that acts as the hook here as they soar past the middle of their debut-record and dive into its second-half. Buckminster gets a lot of credit here for leading the way through the verse and its Rock-meets-Funk ideas…maybe you can even get away with calling him Funkminster for a moment on this album before they launch into a chorus hell-bent on rocketing through the ceiling and straight into the stratosphere above. Smart writing here…reminds me a ton of Throwing Muses, who I’ve grown up loving my entire life…and I think that’s an influence you can certainly hear on this band & sound as they take this track on; also in the following tune “For Nothing.”
I dig that they’ve pulled this all off as well as they have. Songs like “For Nothing” will have you guessing for moments as they play it…you’ll wonder at first if they got this one right…before you realize that they’ve really outdone themselves here in terms of its complexity and really nailed some incredible timing on this second-to-last cut. It’s seriously impressive and nothing you’ll hear from this band happens by accident. Erin is immaculate with one of her best, most vibrant & dramatic performances leading the way through this song. How Katie does what she’s asked of in this song…is pretty damn-well beyond all expectation, even with the high-standard she’s set already. All of the players in Resilient deserve much credit for being able to rise to a challenge like this on “For Nothing.” You might figure that you’re hearing a straight-ahead tune because the nuances in the writing are pulled off so fantastically – but you’ll find so much depth to the writing if you listen closely, you could swim in it.
As Imagining Things heads to the end in one of their best tunes – the rhythm and pulse of “Worth The Fall” is audibly intoxicating to me. I’d like to personally shout-out Dusty Tru and Steve Jepson for their mixing…I think that Resilient is actually quite fortunate to have people like this working with them that obviously understand the needs of their sound as well as they clearly do. It’s solid work that completely complements the vision of sound the band clearly has. “Worth The Fall” is a highlight example of the collective work of this band and the behind-the-boards people all working together perfectly. Don’t get me wrong…the band remains the star of the show – I just wanted to make sure that some credit goes to all the people involved in what has been an incredible ride and completely solid record. It’s unlike anything I’ve heard come through sleepingbagstudios and our pages in the past four years…and I absolutely love what I’m hearing from writing to performance & production. Some people might try to argue the distance set in those vocals being too far away…but just send them my way…cause they’d be wrong. What Erin is able to accomplish…the notes she can hit…the way she sings with such confidence…it’s partly due to her insane-level of skill and determination, but also assisted by the intensity of the music in the band and mix of sound overall.
So…in short…you know, three-pages of writing later kinda-short…I think everything has come together exactly as it should here on Imagining Things by Resilient. The thunderous drums from Katie pound out the final moments of “Worth The Fall” as the vocals, bass and guitars all spiral down the rabbit hole to leave you on the other side. You’ll be scratching your head, wondering ‘how did I get here’ once the music stops – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll start this entire experience right back up again. Incredible effort here…especially when you consider this is a debut-record. I’m expecting massive things to come from Resilient…and I’d be willing to bet on this band being insanely electric and amazing in a live-setting based on everything I’ve heard on this record.
All of this works. ALL of it. You hearing me out there people?
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