The beauty of landscape is hardly grasped by whatever technological means we have. Sure, HD cameras can get a good range of colours and recent documentaries like the brilliant Frozen Planet managed to show us how nature is beautiful.
But there’s nothing like going into the open and embracing the whole of nature. Not only the visual stimulus, but the surrounding factors: moisture, wind, temperature, a vast network of smells and sensations.
Sometimes music can remind you of a good trip to a place of astounding landscapes. Dad Rocks! new album, Mount Modern manages to make me think of the English hilly ranges at The Peak District.
Just like the lush forests and peaceful lakes (and reservoirs), the album opens with a tranquilising track called ‘Mount modern’. Call it the little antipasto before it’s all served, the brass section dances slowly with the string section while we are slowly enveloped in the atmosphere of this lullaby.
The sound of Dad Rocks! is folky but not too quiet; you will never find the room alone, if that makes sense. ‘Weapons’ follows the use of strings and brass, giving it a solemnity that does not go into stuffed-shirt territory. ‘Funemployment’ even uses some steady dance beat (slowed down, you don’t want to scare the voles) to carry the notes around.’Battle hymn of the Fox Father’ is simply beautiful, like a fairy tale with woodland creatures doing their usual shenanigans.
But it’s not all acoustic loveliness in here. You can’t call yourself “dad rock” or any variation of it without actually going into full 70s mode. ‘Lifestock’ has some very technical things thrown around and even some overdriven power chords, because, you know, Boston is sorely missed (at least by me). ‘Downaging’ is …. folk prog! Really, it goes into something that sounds slightly prog, but just barely. Some AOR love here in the form of ‘Lifestock’ too.
With all the detours into other genres and fun interludes, this is a folk album in both spirit and feelings. Nature can be beautiful to look at, but turn your back on it and it’s an unforgiving monster. Same with folk. It might sound “nice” but the words sometimes are like sharp stilettos, thrown with great accuracy by a master ninja (tangent, I know).
No wonder this album is getting kudos from every Tom, Dick and Harry with a keyboard and a degree in navelgazing (I was valedictorian, mind you). It’s folk but never like a pastoral, it’s rocky in the Baby Boomer-pleasing kind of way, but never “compilation album you bought for a road trip” fodder. It’s an awesome delivery of fingerpicking. It’s…Dad Rocks! and it’s fucking* awesome.
*Sorry for the language.