Loud. Melodic. Artistic. Abstract. Bold. All words can be used to describe new label Inpop's first act, Beanbag. These lads from the land downunder slam to America with their funkified hard rock to deliver a much-needed message to the younger generation.
Their debut album, Free Signal, kicks off with a bold statement delivered by screaming vocals followed by infectious-groove-laced guitars for the opening line of their first hit, "Whiplash." Jesus will never let you go! sets the mood for the album and also gives the listener an idea of where the band stands.
Another album highlight, and personal favorite, follows suit with a more rap/rock setting, used to tackle a subject that's rarely touched on. In lead singer Hunz' own words, "The theme of the song is about all those people that suffer and die in the world because of things that are out of their control but the focus is on the people who have everything but choose to do nothing."
The mood and setting of the album changes as the songs get more complex and vary in styles more. "Stale" follows, starting out with merely the bass and moody vocals before breaking into more emotional vocals. "Desire of the Son of the Morning" really throws a curve ball as it starts with whiney guitars, a groove-laced bass riff followed by drums to compliment the mood and vocals that fit as well. When the chorus arrives, a haunting echoing vocal track creeps in. Later, this same effect, accompanied by another vocal track fades out in a deep droning voice creating an eerie effect that isn't all that appealing. If the song had continued how it had started out, it would have been a more solid track.
"Face I Paint" changes the albums mood, throwing in a more melodic, almost-ballad. But before the listener can sink into the comfort the melodies, the chorus comes in with angry vocals that soon return to the song's melodies. This format successfully helps the delivery of the song's meaning, creating that world that seems to be one way when it's really not.
A plus on Free Signal is the bonus track at the end of the album where the band creatively mixes 3 stellar remixes (of "Whiplash," "Bite the Hand," and "Happy Dispatch") into the appearance of someone flipping through radio stations. Where one remix abruptly ends with static as if tuning a station, followed by a hardcore, metal, or bizarre foreign music before reaching the next remix. A clever ending to a clever disc.
Beanbag creates a solid album with intricate, and down-right intriguing songs that may seem unorganized and spontaneous at first, but further listens reveal the method behind the madness. One can only listen to Free Signal and look forward to the next Beanbag project to see what else these Aussies can do.- Review date: 1/8/00, written by John DiBiase
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