Crumbling Arches - The Somnambulist
Record Label: None
Release Date: 2007
Writing a review for an album like this is difficult. Having known these guys for a considerable amount of time, and having plugged them for years, I find it hard to not simply say, “These guys shit gold,” and call it a day. So in order to not a have a completely biased review, I’ll do everything in my power to make it fair and realistic.
Crumbling Arches, as we know them today, formed in Atlanta, GA in 2002 when the members began high school. The band brings multiple genres to the table as well as confidence, having recently gone as far as to play an entire show blindfolded. After releasing multiple EPs they finally began the production of their debut full length, The Somnambulist.
The Somnambulist, recorded in Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, GA and produced by John Holmes is a concept album. Recently, there seem to be plenty of bands releasing concept albums, and it’s quickly becoming old news, but few of those albums make an impression like this. From the almost comic book-esque cover art to the fantastic tracks, this album is a great listen. It tells the story of a man who has a menial desk job and a mundane life, and he decides to break his “chains” to normality. The man destroys his house and belongings, then uses them to build a boat to sail to sea. But every story needs supporting characters, right? That spot is easily filled with characters like Señor Nonchalant, DJ Dormio, and many more who add to the plot and depth of the story. This album is definitely a fun ride.
Things kick off with “Ballad Part 1: Two-Faced Savior,” a slow track that starts with a computer keyboard as percussion to reinforce the setting, and moves to a string filled climax. It continues with the single worthy,“Voice of Reason,” a song that wields a catchy chorus as it’s weapon of choice. “DJ Dormio” brings a techno-dance vibe to the table, and could easily be a fan favorite with its danceability (if that’s a word) and humorous lyrics:
“Sup, thanks for tuning into DJ Dormio, and his talk show radio / Late night stress you can’t suppress / You’ll be dually addressed”
The fifth track, “My Resurrection” is the lowest point of the album. With the repetitive pre-chorus and almost whiny vocals, the song can rattle the nerves after a few listens. However, a kazoo solo in the bridge does bring something to the track's repertoire. The following track “The Rally of Don Jocabin” is the first to feature Brian McGaw on vocals, who has a more melodic voice than fellow vocalist Alex Mckelvey and is the better of the two. Coupled with the next track, “Mundane Patterns,” they are easily two of the better tracks on the album. They deliver clever riffs and catchy lyrics (“Sorry friends, I must make my exit here / The back roads suit me just fine”) added to quality harmonies that make them standouts.
Another “Ballad” and an interlude later, two more character pieces come up. “Senor Nonchalant,” the Hispanic themed rocker, and “Miseratte,” the guitar laden track in the vein of Gatsby’s American Dream. After the final “Ballad” the album comes to a close with the final two tracks, "Organic Debris" and "Looking Forward to Never Looking Back", and the ending to the story (which I won’t give away).
So, fourteen songs later, how do I feel? Great. Similar to that feeling after watching a big summer blockbuster. Pumped about the great action and story, a little sad it’s over, and excited over the prospect of a sequel. The band manages to do something that only a few bands have accomplished in 2007: making an album that’s fun and easy to listen to from beginning to end. Crumbling Arches are still young and just getting started, but with one of the best rhythm sections in the genre, insane harmonies, and their creative, original songs, they are going places. Perfection is hard to achieve, but these guys come awfully close.