>> Rochester natives Great Red incorporate new textures in their sound with their second EP, 'Die Alone.' The five-track record is a follow-up to the band’s 2018 self-release, 'Black Holes.'
The Good: Great speakers and good headphones are well worth the investment to capture the waviness of this EP. This record feels like a Robitussin-induced sleep, only to wake up in a Dali painting; the product of an ever-expanding array of reverb, atmosphere, some slide guitar, and waves of compressed audio. Sheets of sound that rise up and crash down to spill over your ears feel at moments tangible. The production in 'Die Alone' is not perfect, but the pure enjoyment that must’ve come with the experimentation of these sounds must be. Listening to lyrics that glide through a dismal but dreamy space, one must wonder about the intended impact of the record. 'Die Alone' is not the cheeriest of titles, and therein may actually lie the point. Songs titled “How Long Was I Gone,” “Fever Dream,” and “Radio Silence” all seem to echo a similarly cool and numbing motif, and the lyrics in “Holy Smokes” signify a departure from being able to communicate with perhaps God or the supernatural. The very upbeat moments in this track are few and far in between but are very timely and exciting when they occur. I found this a genuinely fun record and as far as local acts are concerned this was a hit for me.
The Bad: What is lacking overall on this record is a variety of texture. In “Black Holes,” the guitar work and percussion added either frequent bursts of energy or clarity amidst some of the spacier, more numbing moments throughout. The opportunity for that relieving contrast is largely lost in this EP, leaving the work with a homogenous, sedated edge which scarcely benefits some tracks. The bass work on the record I feel takes the hardest hit in the production as a consequence. On all tracks, the sheer round, sub-like muddiness emitted from the low-end fail to purposefully punch through or add firm support to the rest of the sonic ecosystem in a way that would be ideal. Yet another contributing factor to this uniform sound may be the liberal use of reverb throughout, which certainly makes for cool effects on some tracks, yet covers up what may be crisp listening in others. The spaced-out approach does not compliment all of the tracks the same. All said it is safe to say that a dreamy, wondering aesthetic, like that of this record, could be approximated with production techniques that dabble less in reverb.
The Review: 'Die Alone' is to me, a transitional piece of work for Great Red as creative artists. This EP marks definite growth from their last release, especially in songwriting, but has yet to capture where their sound is going to end up. It is well worth the listen and clocking in at about half an hour it never overstays its welcome. I would suggest listeners dive into most of the tracks with little else going on - there is a lot to absorb in a handful of these songs. 3.5/5 <<
Favorite tracks - "Fever Dream" and "How Long Was I Gone"