Sometimes you discover music by accident. It’s nice when that happens, right? I’d like to think so. I can think of plenty of times when it has happened to me. One of my favorite accidents of all-time had to be my discovery of Scenic
by Denver Harbor. It was just about a year ago, and some friends of mine and myself were on a little “teenage rebellion" road-trip. So, you know what we did? We totally ignored all the great fast food places, nasty hotels, and opportunities to show off for hot chicks with our respective instruments. No, instead, we went to a Wal-Mart. Yeah, we’re just too cool to do bad thing, I suppose (as if that makes sense either way).
Anyways, whilst looking through the Electronics department, we came across the CD racks (big surprise). Now, since we’re all musicians/music whores, we dove right in to see what we could see. Two hour later, a friend says to me “Hey, Dan, check this out." Now, I very bored at this point (I finished my shopping one hour and fifty-seven minutes ago) and was dying to do something
. My friend had called me over to show me an album he had come across, buried way back there in the boondocks of the CD cases. That album was Denver Harbor’s first full-length, Scenic
. The name hardly seemed familiar, and I wasn’t too interested, until my pal mentions the fact that some guys from Fenix Tx formed this band. So at this point, I’m thinking “Wait. I love Fenix Tx. This changes everything."
One coin flip, some angry mutterings, and yet another emptying of my wallet later, and I was the proud owner of this album. And since it was a road-trip, I naturally wanted to just take off down the highway with it blasting full volume. Well, we did, and I was blown away.
is one damn impressive album (to put it bluntly). It’s very rare to come across a meshing of genres that fits into a coherent, catchy, radio-friendly package. Denver Harbor manage to be unique and experimental, without straying from the tried and true roots that keep thousands of teenage girls all over the world screaming for them. Of course, according to the album’s single “Picture Perfect Wannabe," Denver Harbor aren’t too keen on the whole “teenage girl, rock star success, multi-platinum album" thing. Could that be, dare I say, refreshing? While it’s nothing new for artists to disregard mainstream success in the pursuit of their passions, never has a band of this style pulled it off. And Denver Harbor pull it off very well.
’s opening track is “Xenophobia." Strong drumming break in for some nice guitar, with front man/rhythm guitarist Will Salazar’s vocals overlaying with some aggressiveness. For the sake of interest, take note that drummer Ilan Rubin was only fifteen years old when Scenic
was recorded. He’s been considered something of a musical prodigy his entire life, and his command of the skins is made well-known on this album. Next up, we have “Picture Perfect Wannabe." As I mentioned before, this was the album’s first single, and it’s easy to hear why. Excellent lyrics about the current state of the music business (as well as rock music itself) combine with great instrumentation to make for a catchy, hooky song, that will make you sing-a-long like a preschooler to the Barney theme song. Seriously, this song is just that good.
So Denver Harbor has proven that they can rock hard(-ish). And they didn’t even have to resort to foul language and/or immature lyrics (as Fenix Tx sometimes did). But can they slow things down at the appropriate time and show off their song writing skills? Yes they can, and the next song, “Outta My Head" proves it. As I said, it’s slower, a little more melodic, but no less hooky. Great lyrics combine again with a smooth beat that appear to be the perfect fit for this point in Scenic
. “Satisfied" is also another one of those “melodicore" songs (genre-wise people may recognize this as the “official" group that Denver Harbor fall into). This is another one of my favorites from the album; it features some of the most well-written lyrics on the album.
Ah, now we’re cooking. The very, very quiet (you’ll have to turn the volume up for this one) “All I Want," is a subtle intro for “The Ride." That’s not to say that this song is a filler by any means (it clocks in at 6:02; only about 1:30 of which being actual “filler"), but it certainly gives off that illusion (to use illusion at this point is quite ironic, considering the “magic mushroom" lyrics at the end of this track; sue me for a lame pun). It then breaks into “The Ride." Well, it’s a good song, and any fairly intelligent person can tell at what Denver Harbor are hinting at with the “red light" in the lyrics sheet.
picks up again with the stronger (well, than its direct predecessors at least) “Move On." A slightly different style of Salazar’s singing is featured on this one. The breakdown is pretty sweet, and then the whole “echo" thing with the vocals is also cool (yes, I’m aware that I wrote that like a nine year old, but it aptly describes the song, and it’s my job to do just that). Next up we have the semi-depressing “Way Back Home." Best. Damn. Lyrics. On. The. Album. I can’t really summon up any more eloquence than that to detail this song with, so give it a listen yourself.
“Twenty Six" is another filler of sorts. Unlike “All The Way," however, there isn’t much to say about this one. The lyrics are well-written and are a good (albeit totally off-center) intro to the next song, “Twenty Seven" (I saw that coming from a mile and a half, and one glance on the back of the jewel case away). “Twenty Seven" is some trippy little song about the world changing and about “freak shows" and “radio junkies." How cool do it sound just to read that? Yes, it’s roughly that cool, plus the rush of skydiving or doing some other masochistic activity, to actually listen to this song.
You know what I don’t like? I don’t like it when bands write a song and title it “Something (The Chorus of Something)," If you know everyone’s going to call the song by the chorus’ lyrics, then why not just name it that? Silly artists, with your “art." Anyway, “My Holiday (Save Me)" is one of those songs. While I may hate the general concept behind its name, I actually think that this is one of the better songs on the album (it even has a chorus that goes “Save me!").
Oh, you know what else I don’t like? I don’t like it (at all) when fantastic albums go out with a murmur instead of a roar. It happens about one out of ever three or so times, and unfortunately, Scenic
just happened to be the “one" in that (totally inaccurate, and completely made-up) figure. “Let You Go" just isn’t that good. It’s quiet, the lyrics really aren’t catchy, and the music is dull and uninspired. I can’t really imagine why Denver Harbor would take everything that was great about this album…and just not use it.
So, I like musical accidents. I hope I can have more of them in the future. In the meantime, I’m going to listen to this excellent album. Oh yeah, and while I have your attention, I’m going to say this: buy Scenic
now, or you’re really, really missing out.