August and Everything After
The Manor, the ambitious 10-song CD by August and Everything After, opens with "Run," a song that tries to kindle the kind of slow-burning adolescent angst that makes a whole new crop of eighth-graders buy Pink Floyd's The Wall each and every year. And that's quite a big chunk to bite off.
AAEA (how should we abbreviate this?) seems largely the brainchild of vocalist and guitarist Josh Gerba, who wrote the lion's share of the material and, with the rest of the band members, essentially made a complex art-rock record by hand. Rounding out the group are Zakk Fine, also on guitar, Brandon Zebrowski, also on guitar, Jacob Gerba on bass and Shawn Klocek on drums.
What the band does really well is creating cool, spooky textures. Surfy, delay-drenched guitars cascade down the minor and diminished chords, over a rhythm section that can introduce ideas of its own or lay back as needed. "Chance" packs a sweet melody, as do the piano-dominated ballads "Catharsis" and "Precious World." "Perfect" is a solid, Radiohead-meets-STP creep song.
Which brings me to where AAEA makes me wary: They sound too derivative of early Radiohead. "Execution Song" had me convinced it was a cover at first, so closely did it elide a couple of Radiohead melodies, which does not build confidence. Likewise, Gerba's melodramatic vocals often sound gloomy for gloomy's sake. "Sometime in your life you will find that you're not god / and you, you will die, and your life it will be done," he sings in "Human."
But my real critique of this record really isn't about the CD at all: The band's name creates the impression that it's a Counting Crows tribute band, which is confusing and has nothing to do with this music. (Although in fairness, Pink Floyd's name was also a tribute to other musicians they sounded nothing like: blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.)
All this said, AAEA are obviously very talented, ambitious musicians, and have the makings of a good band if they can isolate and magnify the more original facets of their sound and style.