Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Album Review: "Overgrown" by Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine

Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine released
Overgrown on October 30, 2012
Overgrown is the debut album from Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine, and the band has leapt into the proverbial deep end with this dense and boisterous release.  With a massive presence and cacophonous yet focused sound, The Swimming Machine has burst upon the scene with a stellar debut that ranges from carnival-esque madness to gypsy folk punk at the drop of a dime.  Their self proclaimed orchestral gutter folk is a truly unique sound that is unparalleled by their peers, while they pack a heavy Americana tinged punch that feels reminiscent of fellow Wilmington band Onward, Soldiers , Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine have built their own niche and filled it with fantastic and triumphant anthems.

Overgrown takes the listener on an aural journey that boats nightmarishly dark overtones juxtaposed with bright brass lines and dance invoking swing.  Album opener "In Cold Blood" introduces Lacy's jaunting melodies accompanied by a powerful orchestral presence that sets the tone for the rest of the album.  The Swimming Machine can simultaneously invigorate the listener with their energy that seems to pour from the speakers and captivate them with their seamlessly woven layers of fuzzed out guitar, upright bass, brass, and woodwind.  Tracks like "Cellophane" are perfect representations of this feat, this song is bursting with life and bouncing melodies that perfectly counteract the abrasive grit of Lacy's vocals.

This Wilmington collective has captured New Orleans swing and added a demented twist while maintaing its authenticity.  Overgrown feels like it's fueled by dark machinations, making the band name all the more appropriate as you listen to this adventurous album that's filled with gems that are nestled snugly within a fantastically composed album.  The tracks bleed together wonderfully, making it hard to single out individual tracks to listen to and instead begging the listener to opt into a full run through of the album.  It's a comprehensive musical thought that's had life breathed into it through the creative output of eighteen individuals, evidenced by the highs and lows of this album that can easily parallel the rise and fall of ones chest as you release heavy sighs and quick bursts of air.  That's how Overgrown feels, some tracks feel like they were begging for release, oozing with tension, while others are short spurts of energy like the album's first single, "Bottom Feeder".  Though it clocks in at just over five minutes, "Bottom Feeder" feels punk to its core, echoing the sounds of Gogol Bordello's gypsy influence while gliding smoothly along with impressive trumpet and sax lines.

Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine have made an incredible name for themselves with this release.  It's gone relatively overlooked in its first few weeks of release outside of their home city of Wilmington, but it's certainly only a matter of time before the rest of the state catches on to this entrancing and unique sound that's coming from out east.  With whimsical, soaring instrumentation placed side by side with guttural groans and vivid lyricism, Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine have crafted a twisted carnival of sights and sounds that marches on to victory with stellar execution.  Make way for this stellar band, as they're on the path to great things.

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