Caleb McAlpine
Science Fiction


3.5
great

Review

by El. Psy. Congroo. USER (7 Reviews)
October 15th, 2010 | 291 replies | 17,963 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Waior does something heroic.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

I'm a straight guy, but I'm going to just throw this out there: Morgan Freeman has a sexy voice. It's deep, it's soothing...if there were an app that simply had his voice saying, "It's time to sleep now," I would never buy another overpriced mattress again. You know who else has a sexy voice? Chris Martin of Coldplay...wait, no, let me finish! Chris Martin of Coldplay while he's singing "Yes." I grew up with that cracking falsetto in "The Scientist," and trust me, that's not sexy...so when he trades it in for a deep baritone on "Yes," I get all surprised, and I just imagine girls throwing themselves on him even more than they probably were before, and that's sexy. You know who else has a sexy voice? Caleb McAlpine.

Yeah, that's right. I said it. Caleb McfuckingAlpine has a sexy voice.

Actually, let me take that back. Caleb McAlpine has a voice that sounds like John Mayer without the incessant wheeze. If you enjoy that wheeze (as Caleb himself professed he does), then maybe Caleb's voice isn't so sexy. But, if you're like me, and would love John Mayer more if he had a bit more substance in his vocals, then yes, Caleb McAlpine has a sexy voice, which works out pretty well, really, considering that vocals are front and center on almost every song of this seven-song EP of his, called 'Science Fiction'. Even better, because his voice is suited perfectly for the music he creates.

Take, for instance, opener "I Was Wrong," 'Science Fiction''s most blatant Minus the Bear imitation. There's an impressive 0:46 second intro in which the primary sound switches from a pulsing, lounge-jazz-infused romp of drums, piano and guitar, to an earthy bass line that demands your complete attention...that is, until those silky vocals come in at 0:47. From that second on, Caleb's voice is the star attraction of the song, and rightfully so (sex sells, they say).

But you don't sell out a production with only one single attractive member of the cast, especially if said cast member has to carry the show by themselves (and the vocals, while amazing, are not meant to carry this entire thing)...so naturally, Caleb whored out his hands to be proficient at every instrument on the album. And proficient, they are, as demonstrated by the seamlessness in which Mr. McAlpine switches musical styles from experimental alt-rock to indie folk. Songs like "A Happy Song," which is (surprise, surprise) a happy song straight from the heart of Americana, works just fine right next to songs like "We'll Always Have Today," a slightly less happy song that seems content to be simply influenced by Minus the Bear. Digging deeper, there are individual moments on the album which, upon second or third listen, you realize are quietly awesome, like the ornate guitar lick stuck in the very back of the mix about a minute into "I Was Wrong," or the very simple choral keyboard sequences that dance in the background of "Bittersweet," subtly adding depth to the song. And then, there are those moments of grandeur that just wrangle your ears, like the two-minute-long solo that comes in the middle of "Sober" (the last and longest track on the EP), which probably wouldn't be so out of place on a John Frusciante album, such is the wonderfully dense soundscape created by its false simplicity...or that outro on "Of One Language, Of One Speech...," in which Caleb sets his frets on fire for a bit of showing off. These elements help enhance the product as a whole, which is cool, because as I said, the vocals aren't meant to carry the entire thing.

That, however, presents this EP's biggest flaw. The album's true strength comes from its atmosphere (I could imagine listening to this on a dark desert highway in California), from its experimentation (there's no question that this album spans multiple genres and has multiple influences) and from its subtlety in arrangement (if I were Caleb, I'd be showing off my guitar chops at every chance I get, just sayin'...). The album's biggest weakness, though, comes from...the vocals. See, if the sexy star of the show gets too heady, then no matter how good the other players, and no matter how good the direction, the show will suffer a bit...and it does here. Caleb's voice absolutely matches the music well; he's got the perfect sound, and even better, he can use it to match the style of the song. He's also got a commendable mastery of all the other instruments presented here, as well as an ear for the different ways they can all fit together. The best songs on the album, then, are the ones that create a perfect cohesion between all the different pieces. Wait...let me rephrase that. The songs that work best are the ones that create the perfect cohesion. "Sober" manages to pull this off perfectly, and is consequently the best song on the EP; the vocals and the instruments are balanced in the mix just about right, and Caleb gets a chance to showcase his talents not only in the guitar solo, but also in production, as the last minute or so presents some very interesting musical experimentation (to be honest, despite being the longest song, it's perhaps the easiest to listen to--the mark of a good seven-minute-long song is that it feels like only three minutes have passed). "A Happy Song" and "Wedding Song,"meanwhile, work because the vocals are supposed to take a commanding lead...and they do. The latter song even features two guest vocalists, Jacob Kemp and Dina Diaz, who create an excellent male-female folk dynamic a-la Nickel Creek. Those are the songs that work best. The songs I think should be the best songs, though, are "I Was Wrong" and "We'll Always Have Today"...and yet those vocals are slightly TOO attention-grabbing, and that lounge-jazz instrumental trio is a bit TOO subtle for these types of songs, and it gives them a sort-of hollow feeling in the middle ("We'll Always Have Today," especially). Yes, I want that sex symbol front and center, but I also want to be able to enjoy all the other performances, "because as I said, the vocals aren't meant to carry the entire thing," and everything else is so well done that it would be a shame to not give them their due attention.

But of course, we'll let it slide this time. After all, 'Science Fiction' is Caleb's first official product in music, and for all of its (minor) flaws and shortcomings and blemishes, it's definitely much better than one might expect for a musician who recorded all instruments and almost all vocals to all seven songs "in [his] spare time during the past couple of months," and there are some really fantastic parts here. Above all, though, there's definite potential for growth, and an inkling that, if that potential is nourished, something truly amazing will emerge in the not-too-distant future. So yeah...we'll let it slide. Because this album, on the whole, altogether, is damn good. And almost all the songs on here are damn amazing. And Caleb has a damn fine ear for music.

And really, Caleb McAlpine's voice is damn sexy....but not in-your-face sexy. It's kind of like Jeff Buckley's voice, but with more timidity and less swag; you know, not Jessica Alba sexy, but Jenna Fischer sexy. Yeah...that somehow works.


Personal Rating - 4
Public Rating - 3.5


Choice Tracks
-"I Was Wrong"
-"Bittersweet"
-"Sober"



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Comments:Add a Comment 
WatchItExplode
October 15th 2010



3227 Comments


resubmitted? or what?

I would like to hear this very much so yes...

Jesuslaves
October 15th 2010



4655 Comments


deja vu

AnotherBrick
October 15th 2010



9770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

woah. sweet.

wyankeif1337
October 15th 2010



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm so down for some Waior.

Masochist
October 15th 2010



8012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a joke review. Waior's Last.fm profile is here:

http://www.last.fm/music/Caleb+McAlpine

You can listen to three full tracks from the EP, and 30 second snippets of the rest. So yeah...please don't delete the review this time.

And maybe his voice isn't THAT sexy, but it really is good for this kind of music.

Download it here:

http://www.mediafire.com/?b7qx669gtxcwg7q

Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2010



15893 Comments


is this real?

edit: oh i see. now dropping everything to listen to this.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Xenophanes
Emeritus
October 15th 2010



10593 Comments


This insane, I'm glad to see he's doing something with his music.

AnotherBrick
October 15th 2010



9770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

last.fm page not found

Masochist
October 15th 2010



8012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

AnotherBrick - Should work now ;-)

wyankeif1337
October 15th 2010



6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's actually fairly good from what I'm hearing, but those background falsetto vox are annoying the shit out of me.

Nikkolae
October 15th 2010



4838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is awesome really

Digging: Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2010



15893 Comments


this is actually good

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2010



23807 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is really good. Attaboy Caleb, way to unleash your awesomeness to sputnik. Also, anyone else think the guitar solo on Bittersweet fucking kills? I want that tabbed out.

CelestialDust
October 15th 2010



3155 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

can i order this off amazon i like the 30 second clips
edit: oh cool missed the 3 full tracks

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2010



28466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

OMG I KNOW HIM

Digging: Kimbra - The Golden Echo

porch
October 15th 2010



8453 Comments


now i want a sappy crappy acoustic academy album

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2010



28466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm a straight guy, but I'm going to just throw this out there: Morgan Freeman has a sexy voice.


theacademy
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2010



28466 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

now i want a sappy crappy acoustic academy album


gonna hit the studio probably after i finish the williamsburg coffee shop circuit


Ire
October 15th 2010



41754 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

woah. sweet.



bailar14
October 15th 2010



1603 Comments


i shall obtain this mi amor



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