Underwater Tiger - Where Miles Become Meaning
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: March 27, 2012
In a musical generation obsessed with party rocking, moving like The Rolling Stones' frontman, and giving phone numbers to strangers in hopes they'll call (maybe), it's hard to get noticed as an emerging alternative rock band. Thousands of young musicians begin with dreams of becoming stars, but few have the artistry or originality to see them come true. Once in a while, however, a band comes along that breaks through this cluttered and stale landscape. Underwater Tiger prove that with talent, camaraderie, and a deep appreciation for their fans, real and inspiring music will come to life.
A quintet comprised of two sets of brothers, Underwater Tiger have deep community roots in their hometown of Horseheads, New York. Starting their musical career in small-town bars and clubs, Underwater Tiger quickly made a name for themselves with their high-energy live performances and passion and respect for their fans. Trying to fund their debut album with earnings from gigs playing cover songs proved too difficult for the band, who decided to start a fundraising campaign. In a few short months, their loyal fan base had not only met the band's goal of $3,000, but surpassed it by nearly $1,800. With this financial support, the band promised to deliver. And deliver they did. Three more videos, three singles, and one full-length album later, Underwater Tiger sit poised to attack the alt-rock scene.
The title of their debut album, Where Miles Become Meaning, directly refers to the journey they have made as a band, but goes beyond that. The title represents the idea that your decisions, actions, and interactions with others define who you are. Themes of love, heartache, happiness, and finding yourself are all present on this album, showcased by polished harmonies and powerful vocals from Matt Furstoss and Nate Miner. Underwater Tiger are no one man show; their ability to utilize talents from each member of the band is truly impressive. Each individual contributes in their own way to each song, whether it is through backup vocals, harmonizing, writing lyrics, or just flawless musicianship.
Where Miles Become Meaning is as much about finding yourself as it is about Underwater Tiger finding themselves. Each track has its own unique feel, as if the band is testing the waters of their genre before picking the warmest spot and diving in. Some tracks relying on heavy guitar riffs, while others succeed just as well with soft strums and piano notes.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New; Where Miles Become Meaning is powerful and catchy, yet mellow and reserved. Fast-paced melodic rock complements soft emotional harmonies, creating a blend of tracks that flow seamlessly the length of the album. To say the songs are catchy would be an understatement. Where Miles Become Meaning sticks with you throughout your entire day and begs you to press that repeat button.
The album kicks off with the title track, taking advantage of all three guitars in the band, as well as all five members' vocals to deliver one of the heavier songs on the album. A smooth guitar riff runs the length of the song, which ends with a hard, jarring breakdown. The album switches gears immediately, transitioning to the slightly surreal sound of "Bones," with its pattering drum lines and echoing guitars.
"Bones" was the bands first single, and rightfully so. As one of the standout tracks on the album, it's apparent that Underwater Tiger feel comfortable here and the track feels very natural. Matt Furstoss's lead vocals shine on "Bones," while Nate Miner provides backup and harmonization. "Oh So Surreal," "The In-Between," and "Just Go" follow similar patterns of catchy choruses and the spot-on harmonizing that has quickly established itself as the band's trademark.
The beautifully intertwined ending of "Just Go" is a perfect prelude to "Shipwreck Love". Nate Miner's piano takes center stage here, matching well with Matt's higher pitch. "Dioscuri" follows, an entirely instrumental intermission, whose name derives from Greek Mythology and refers to Castor and Pollux; said to be skilled horsemen and the patrons of sailors. A nod to their hometown and to the nautical themes of many tracks on the album, "Dioscuri" is a welcome showcase of Underwater Tiger's musical talent and readies the listener for the following track, "Treading Days".
As the heaviest track on the album, Underwater Tiger experiment with their sound quite a bit on "Treading Days;" perhaps a bit too much. Musically, the track is well done, however it feels just outside of Matt's vocal personality. That's not to say the band should stray completely away from a heavier sound. Simply, in this case, Matt's vocal style just doesn't quite match up with what the song demands.
"Rocky Loves Emily" is the standout track on the album, featuring Nate's songwriting and lead vocals on the verses, with Matt providing for the chorus of the song. After hearing "Rocky Loves Emily" and how well Nate's and Matt's voices complement each other, I found myself wishing for more songs like it. Matt and Nate's vocals play off one another perfectly from chorus to verse, with Matt knocking out the higher notes while Nate cleans up the low end. This back and forth, dual lead singer style of songwriting could definitely be used to Underwater Tiger's advantage on future tracks. Musically and lyrically, "Rocky Loves Emily" is superb and is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs- yes, of all time.
The album winds down with "One November Night," a poetic and heartfelt ballad beginning with a piano solo that builds to incorporate the whole band. While maybe a bit too slow at the beginning, the song picks up at just the right time, and again, Matt and Nate's voices interweave with each other perfectly on this track.
The closing song and latest single is another personal favorite; a straight up rocker impossible to not air drum to. "The Summer Came" features vocals that are nothing short of pristine, with a punching chorus and fantastic guitar solo. "The Summer Came," "Bones," and "Rocky Loves Emily" are where Underwater Tiger belong. These three tracks are the album's heart and soul, while the rest fill in what few empty spots remain. There is no filler or fluff on this album. Every track stands strong on its own, while also balancing out one another. Nothing feels out of place, and arrangement of the tracks makes for a pleasurable listen from start to finish.
As a whole, Where Miles Become Meaning is cohesive, catchy, and as heartwarming as it is hard-rock. As a freshman effort, Where Miles Become Meaning is a spectacular start for such a young band. The group has managed to create a complex and multilayered album that is truly a team effort. Great things are in store for these five young musicians, and I can't wait to see where their talent and dedication takes them. As far as I'm concerned, this has only just begun.