Old Lava: “Animalythical” Embracing and Totally Sublime!

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Old Lava is a 3 piece rock band from Syracuse, who by their own admission play “strangely tuned guitars, primal drums, xylophones, accordions, and keyboards.” The have both a female in Amy Ann Steele and a male singer in Scott Steele. On their latest CD, Animalythical, the two multi-instrumentalists are joined by Craig Murray on drums.

Amy Ann Steele has this to say about the trio’s music: “Our song writing style is to leave things open to interpretation, with an emphasis on evoking feeling and visualizations even when addressing specific issues.” There obviously couldn’t be a better way to address creative musical processes, and in this the band expresses an artistic maturity well beyond their years of playing experience.

If there’s one thing I always hope to achieve through music reviews, it’s to bring people’s attention to some recordings that they might not otherwise hear. And this may just be one such unfairly neglected album. Once you’ve digested Animalythical you will wonder, where have I been? Their sound is gritty, scuffed, slightly detuned, and never obvious. Each listen will reveal melodies kind of floating just underneath the surface. On this album Old Lava crafts a set of clever pop songs which soon reveal themselves as surprisingly complex compositions, justifying every blast of unconventional sound or melody present in the mix.

Animalythical is a strange album in that it is at once embracing, abrasive and soft, absurd and totally sublime. The band has managed to take their already strong songwriting capabilities to new heights by using the studio as a creative tool. The resulting recording is one that has increased the band’s depth hundred fold compared to their previous album. This CD is ‘classic’ sounding in every sense: it’s varied, it demands multiple listens, and it challenges the listener with a wide array of sounds and styles.

Mention indie, progressive, pop and alt-rock in the same sentence and you’ll make a lot of people run away screaming. But Old Lava’s formula embraces all these genres and it works with amazing effectiveness on this album. Amy Ann Steele stirs the mix with her measured and nuanced vocal notes, while Scott Steele drives the rhythms with his sometimes dirty and dauntless riffs. The effect is startlingly original and harmonious, even in the music’s most discordant moments.

There are many standout tracks on this 14-track album, but for me a couple stand head and shoulders above the rest, like “Down That Road”, “Salvation Is A Name”, “Back Home Charlie” and “Casualties”. These four songs embrace an unparalleled sonic intensity and beauty, rarely found in modern day recordings.

The amazing thing is that for now, you can listen to Old Lava’s music for free. They have 2 full length albums under their current incarnation, Animalythical and Home Is Where Your Shell Is.

Give this band a listen!




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