Sunday, February 9, 2014

AP Album Review: "Earnest Goodbye" by Doubt Aplomb - Like a Secret Diary Revealed

Doubt Aplomb is a band out of Ventura, California. This part of Northern California feels vast compared to So Cal. The county is about half the size of L.A. County yet only has about a fifth of the population. People and places are more spread out. When I travel up there, time seems to move slower. Lost in a morning fog band, the air feels heavy, yet cleansing. In this environment one wonders if thoughts and feelings may just have more space and time to coalesce.

The collection of songs on "Earnest Goodbye" feel like the musical equivalent of a secret diary being splayed out for everyone to see.  Cory Soto's oftentimes bittersweet lyrics are delivered with raw emotion cut to the bone. He takes chances with his vocal range. He can go from a guttural, almost monotonic self obsessed talk-ish tone to a yelping, screaming diatribe. There is an underlying somber nature to most of his compositions. Encased in this tone is the youthful (or maybe timeless) feeling of finding yourself, your place in the cosmos and living up to your own expectations. Vocally, there is a unpredictable quality as well. I thought of  Mario Cuomo of the Orwells a few times as I listed to this album. He is another young talent whose vocal performance has an unpredictable sketchy quality, a tendency to veer into oncoming traffic. I also thought of the Pixies and Black Francis's style of getting wordy during the verses and then beautifully melodic and hooky on the chorus. The last band I will invoke is The Smiths. From time to time, Cory does this sing songy cadence with his stream of consciousness style lyrics that has a Morrissey element to it.

All the songs on "Earnest Goodbye" speak to me, some more than others but they all feel cohesive. It is a true album, one that should be experienced in it's entirety.  The first track, Nothing More has a long intro (especially for someone like me who has short attention span) that in retrospect feels like a long walk to the end of a pier before you strip yourself naked and dive into a tumultuous sea of life.  Pale Horse soars from its inception on wings of constant mellow yet uplifting guitars, bass, drums and violin. I love how the verse progression climbs but there is a stair, stepping down part on a chorus transition. The third track is the album's namesake. Earnest Goodbye will tug at your heart. A song that seems to be about the bipolar nature of creativity and the loss of not being accepted or loved whether it is by others or yourself. The violin melody buttresses the emotion weight. Jerry Lewis is a trip. Upbeat and artfully askew, it is perfectly placed among the other songs. I will leave it at that except to say it feels like a post modern hippie song and made me think of the amazing Moses Campbell. The line "and if they could capture that lack of rapture, this world would be filled with less candy wrappers and still, no one could tell them anything" made me smile.

The Trip has a barbiturate sway to it. It has an embraceable orchestral density that wraps around  fervent vocals. The lovely musical bed against Cory's strident vocal performance works so well. The line "And will my child have the chance to dance" hung with me and I would love to know the story behind it. Band of Posers propelled on a tough and rough bass line rushes into an American rock feel, as romantic and stalwart as a Springsteen song. The violin bending into this dissonant note that hangs in the air like a shooting star is memorable. There are two bonus tracks on this album. The first, Anxious Monkeys, should just be ON the album period. It is a standout track. Built around a simple indie rock progression it feels as free and head spinning as a first love. The second, You Can't Tell Me Like I Can, fluctuates between a sleepy post punk ballad and eruptive psychedelic blues rock with Cory gently crying his heart out.

I have said this before and still believe that any great album really serves as a musical Rorschach test. We attribute our own emotions to the sounds and words that touch us. We ascribe meaning to the songs based on what is going on or has gone on in our own lives. Sometimes our unique feelings intersect with that of the artist or others listening to the same songs. Magic can happen. Catharsis can take place. I felt both while listening to the indie / art rock of Doubt Aplomb's "Earnest Goodbye" and that is, indeed, a rare thing.

Robb Donker

Doubt Aplomb is:

Cory Soto - guitar / vocals
Curtis James - violin / guitar / back vocals
JR Watson - guitar / back vocals
Josh Griego - bass
Matt Grote - drums

As with all bands / artists that touch you in some way- I hope you support them by purchasing their art, that is, after all, the best way to help them stay creative.

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