Echo Chamber – The Strange (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

I like an album that makes me look at the cd player and say “what?!” Some of the musical directions that the band follow throughout their new album ‘Echo Chamber’ are surprising and all the better for them.

The sax solo on opening track ‘Lonesome Rider’ sits where possibly a trumpet should be, it takes it dangerously close to Roxy Music territory (no shame in that), the added female voice to ‘Dead End Shore’ and harmonica on ‘Last Train to Nowhere’ all seems to fit so well.

The Strange is a mash up between Croatian surf-rockers The Bambi Molesters and American singer/songwriter Chris Eckman and the two blend so well together it feels like a match made in heaven, taking in cumbia, rock, country, soul (particularly the brass parts on ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Dime A Dozen’) and a little blues it sounds well balanced and like a slow walk through American music. Nothing is rushed and nothing is over looked, this is a band knowing full well where their strengths lie and that is in good songwriting matched with good musicians, isn’t that what music should be?

There are moments here and there that hint that the song subjects aren’t what they immediately appear to be, ‘Fast Train to Nowhere’ is a clear allegory of the current political climate but so too could be ‘Shoot The Bear’.

Strong drums and pounding bass rule the day here, the songs relying heavily on the rhythm section allowing the gravelly voice of Eckman to observe the world like the lone drifter at the end of the bar who has seen it all yet keeps his cards close to his chest, you never know who is listening…

It’s a dark, gritty, enthralling spaghetti western of an album that, if you like Americana music with a bit more gravity than songs about tractors and late night dancing, should be tracked down.

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