Reviews

Now It's Overhead

Author: JANELLE GREENE
10/09/2001 | Pulse | Buscout.com | Album Review
Heading towards a hit
Alternative rockers Now It's Overhead look to take music lovers by storm with their infectious self-titled debut album

Now It's Overhead. The band's name is enough to spark interest.

What, exactly, is overhead? After listening to the band's self-titled debut album about a million times, I still can't tell you what the name is supposed to mean.

I can, however, tell you that Now It's Overhead's first album is unquestionably good.

It's also the first album create by a non-Nebraska-based band to be released by Saddle Creek Records. The music doesn't employ the stripped-down, confessional feel of Bright Eyes, the harder-edged rock of Cursive or the head-bopping synthesizer fun of The Faint, but it finds its niche in the Saddle Creek catalog thanks to its uniqueness.

The music is lushly layered, full of vocals and keyboards. It's alternately slow without being overly depressing and upbeat without being annoying.

"We met Andy LeMaster (from Now It's Overhead) on the road," Saddle Creek's Robb Nansel said in a recent interview with Lazy-I (www.lazy-i.com). "He's a good friend of ours. It was logical to put out his record when it was ready. We don't put out music from people we don't know."

Now It's Overhead is essentially the child of LeMaster, who wrote all the lyrics and music, produced the album and created the painting seen on its cover. LeMaster is best known for touring with Bright Eyes and helping numerous bands record in Chase Park Transduction, his Athens studio.

However, he also has spent time in various bands (The Lures and, more notably, Drip), fine-tuning his own songwriting skills.

LeMaster's voice pulls this album together. He sings in a uniquely appealing fashion, sliding through his lyrics with a hint of a southern accent.

That's not to say, of course, that any of the other members of the band are less important in any way. Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor (both of Azure Ray and Little Red Rocket) provide keyboard skills and beautifully harmonic background vocals, while Clay Leverett (Lures, Drip, Lona) adds his drumming and vocal abilities to the mix. The three provide the perfect background to LeMaster's vocals and lyrics.

It would be unfair to write "Now It's Overhead" off as a "breakup album." Although many of the lyrics do end to focus on that aspect, the album as a whole tells a tale instead of whining about the past. The story starts with hope and ends hopelessly, and the songs cover every step in between.

The album starts with the mid-tempo "Blackout Chain," a haunting song that features all four members repeatedly singing "Don't ever go away from here, and I will never go away" in unison. The song features the best of Now It's Overhead's harmonic abilities, then fades into the darker, more fragmented "Who's Jon?"

The fourth track on the album, "Hold Your Spin," picks up the tempo with its catchy melody and cheerful background "ba, ba, ba" vocals.

The story turns sour in "With a Subtle Look" amidst a background of keyboards, pedal steel and cadence-like bass drum booms. The lyrics fit in with the gloomier atmosphere as LeMaster sings, "My clouded heavy vision sees your arms, once mine, now wrapped around a different boy - he looks like me."

The final track, "A Skeleton On Display," wraps up the story on a hopeless note. It's the end; it's having to accept that the conclusion, no matter how unsatisfying it is, has to be final.

The addition of a lone trumpet (played by Fink) adds to the atmosphere, and the lyrics are some of LeMaster's best. They paint a portrait of the heartbroken person who's finally realizing that " ... your breath against my neck, I fear, was my only reason for breathing."

There are no highlights on this album. Each song has its own special aspects, be it beautiful lyrics or a great melody. And each song can stand on its own but works best within the context of the others.

But occasionally the lyrics wander off into thought-fragment territory and become impossible to follow. Another problem involves its length - it only contains nine songs. More music this good should exist.

Thanks to LeMaster's production work, the songs sound very smooth and professional. Buy this album. You'll like the music, even if you don't quite get the name.




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