For Band Marino, music is about story telling. As each song progresses, a story is unravelled through the lyrics, it is accentuated by the instruments, and it is felt by the atmosphere, ending in the creation of a musical tale. Band Marino's debut album The Sea & The Beast is not a concept album. However, it is one of the most unique, different and interesting indie records I have heard all year, blending straight out folk, with rock, experimental, hints of progressive, and even bluegrass, without sounding the least bit pretentious. Plus, they've got a banjo.
To say this band mixes instruments that shouldn't normally fit together is an understatement. Mixing mandolins, banjos, train whistles, slide whistles, string arrangements, and occasionally brass instruments with the usual drums, guitar and bass, is just the beginning of it. Crafting a song that not only makes full use of these instruments but also uses them to emphasize each other is where it gets tricky. The uncanny ability to make it work is one of the many appealing traits of the band. The distinctive voice of Nathan Bond takes a little getting used to but is poor by no one's standards. He sings, he speaks, he shrieks, he yodels, he even warbles. With the poise and confidence of an expert, he brings the lyrics to life, though not without a few faults here and there. At times in the slower songs, his voice can be unpredictable, at times beautiful, soft and emotional, but at others, almost nasal as he tries to hold the more awkward notes.
The lyrics are another force behind the album, rewarding those who take the time to decipher them. When I listen to 'Arlee Hayes', I imagine the character of Arlee Bill Hayes, a soldier stationed in Macedonia away from his love back home, avoiding the temptation of other women, before getting ship wrecked after ignoring a light house warning and summing up the strength to fight the beast of the sea and to swim ashore, so that he may see his love again one day. Skip to 'Every time I Make a Girl..'. It's a first person tale of someone who seeks more in life and cannot be bothered with love, material possessions, or everyday life. He rejects the woman who pursue him and concurs that he has done his job by making a girl cry and creating a boundary between him and her. These songs don't even hit the 4 minute mark and yet the wealth in the lyrical interpretation is admirable.
The Sea & The Beast is a record like no other I have ever encountered. It's energetic, it's slow, it's fun, it's sad, it's quirky, it's cohesive, and it all makes for a magnificent mix in emotions, sounds, and in the music as a whole. Though Nathan Bonds voice may be off-putting for some, it is equally as rewarding for others, and is ultimately one of the few flaws identifiable within the 35 minute debut. This glows with originality and if anything, get this album just for the sake of encountering a musical experience previously unheard. Band Marino can be proud of this strong indie release.