Bobby Darling: guitar
Kirk Huffman: bass/vocals
Rudy Gajadhar: drums
Nic Newsham: vocals
Gatsbys American Dream hailing from the proverbial Mecca of indie music, Washington, offer up their major label debut, with the impressive Volcano. It is fair to say that GAD has gone relatively unnoticed, despite their incredible musicianship and overall talent as a band—and I don’t toss that term around as an empty compliment, these guys can write a song with enough time signature changes to make The Dilliger Escape plan raise their brows. Although their lineup has changed slightly, a guitarist left to finish school, Gatsbys American Dream has matured beyond the acclaimed Ribbons and Sugar, and built on In the Land of Lost Monsters[EP]. I firmly believe that this album will finally get GAD their acclaim and some much deserved respect as it showcases a band that knows what they’re doing, and doing it extremely well.
Volcano is an incredibly deep and complex album, both musically and lyrically. The song composition is mesmerizing, and the guitar and bass interplay is just stellar. Bobby Darling plays the guitar with an incredible precision and passion that creates some creative and beautiful arrangements. Kirk Huffman rips on the bass, and knows what a bass player is supposed to sound like in rock. Rudy Gajadhar is one of the best in the business with an incredible style that reminds me of some of the tamed flair many of the contemporary jazz drummers hold. As for vocals, Nick Newshams’ unique but beautiful voice is stellar on Volcano and his lyrics are just as perfect a match.
Volcano works so well because the songs play off of one another, creating a cohesive body of art. The overall story, is the motif of a volcano, yeah who would’ve guessed?. Nick makes many references to the mind of a human being the metaphorical volcano, ready to explode when under too much duress. Not only does Nick write extremely good poetry for lyrics, but he incorporates so many forms of diction that it is astounding. Reference to past albums, contemporary literature, and even past songs on the album all add to the feeling of cohesion and unity within Volcano.
Now for the song by song breakdown, which will not be as long as my usual, simply because each song has so much to write about
Theatre – An amazing opener with a funky bassline/guitar feel and great lyrics/vocal melodies. If the word melancholy doesn’t get stuck in your head, you’re not listening.
Pompeii – The obvious reference to the disastrous volcano, this song is one of my favorites on the album. Lyrically, the metaphors and personification are just top notch. Rudy does some great drum work, and Bobby really stands out with some riffs reminiscent of the Why We Fight days. Oh yeah, the song changes time signatures enough to give me motion sickness.
The Guilt Engine – Again, Nick opens the song with a great line, “My shame is cold like a grave, but my lust is hot like an engine…" And so the metaphor begins. Slow starter that builds to a masterpiece. Beautiful, check out the remix if you’re lucky enough to get the bonus disk with your purchase.
A Mind of Metal and Wheels – This is why I love Rudy and think so highly of him. Latin influenced drums with some guitar to match. I’ll say this is my second favorite, but that’s only cause I can’t dance well enough to truly appreciate this song.
Fable – Well, I hope you read Lord Of The Flies in High School, cause Nick obviously did. A more laid back song, reminiscent of the Strokes, only GAD show them how they should be doing their thing.
The Giant’s Drink – First of two Ender’s Game references. I love this book, so they could be banging sticks together and it would’ve rocked. Luckily GAD is above that, and they bring it to the table. Slightly more structured than we’re used to but it works, and works well.
Shhhhhh! I’m Listening to Reason – WOW. First off, this is my favorite song. The opening guitar riff is absolutely golden, and somehow Bobby keeps up the energy he brings the entire song. Bass and Drums? Top notch. Time signatures? HA! The song goes from straight up rock, to ballad-esque break down, to some form of a drunken pub sing along! I LOVE this track, definitely a stand out, and to top it off, Nick’s lyrics are probably the best on the disc. What GAD is all about all in one track.
Meet Me At the Tower in Bowerstone – A short interlude type track with some great drums. Since it’s so short I often long to hear an elongated version, because of some serious potential.
Your Only Escape – Another more structured song, but one of my favorites, the ending refrain is good stuff.
The Hunter – One of my favorite tracks, that shows GAD at their finest. So many strong points, I’d rather not just say killer drums, guitar, bass, and vox. So, just trust me when I say it’s an amazing song.
Speaker of the Dead – Apparently Nick likes Ender’s Game and its morals. The final Ender reference, with a beautiful piano introduction and very strong vocals. Read Ender’s Game and try to tell me this song wants you to read it again.
Badlands – The acoustic version of this song was on the In the Land of Lost Monsters[EP], though structured differently. Again, a stand out track, where Bobby shows off some guitar skills.
The Loosing of the Shadow – The perfect closer, with riffs reminiscent of Why We Fight only with more maturity, showing how the band has come full circle in its song writing. You won’t want to skip this.
I highly recommend this band, mainly because I’ve met them and they are extremely nice guys that are genuinely talented and true to themselves, the fans, and the music. This is what rock should be, end of story.