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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: Over The Hill - Looking For A Spark

Over The Hill - Looking For A Spark
2009, Monofonus Press

I know. Let's take a band with bluegrass and punk influences and marry them with literate and intellectual prose-style lyrics and release in conjunction with a multimedia package on a homegrown label. The next part of this scene shows the young business executive who dreamed up this idea looking wistfully around his office at the record company as he puts the last picture frame in the box while security waits at the door to escort him out of the building. It's not a reflection on the idea as much as one the stale thinking of the corporate giants who have long strangled the music business. The idea itself is visionary, and has been propagated by Morgan Coy, one of the founders of Monofonus Press and also the lead vocalist and guitarist of Over The Hill. Based in Austin, Texas (home of SXSW), Over The Hill is one of the hottest acts on the homegrown seen there and is starting to branch out to Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. The reason is easy to see on Over The Hill's latest CD Looking For A Spark; vibrant songwriting, high quality musicianship and a distinctive vision that reaches beyond just making an album.

Looking For A Spark opens with Alcatraz, an interesting mix of Americana and Punk about going up the river. The arrangement has some interesting key changes and sounds that are dissonant and jarring, but the song as a whole will keep you listening. Waltz has an other-worldly sound fed by the addition of saw to the instruments list. Once again there's a dissonance here that is jarring but causes the listener to sit up and take notice. Looking For A Spark is all about those magical connections that make the world go around; the arrangement is quite catchy and likely to draw prospective listeners. Blood In My Mouth pop stands out as a post-modern rockabilly tune with a loose sense of melody. Looking For A Spark closes out with Over There, a mildly depressive and periodically atonal dirge about how the other half lives.

Over The Hill brings an interesting, arty feel to Looking For A Spark. The arrangements border on downright atonal at times, with melody and harmony mixing in ways that the mixolydian mind could not fathom. Likewise, Morgan Coy's vocals are an acquired taste, but for all that, the album is intriguing.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Over The Hill at You can order Looking For A Spark through Monofonus Press.

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