I can be quite picky with rock that has come out in the past several years. I wouldn’t necessarily say “rock is dead,” but it certainly hasn’t been what it used to be, nor has it intrigued or impressed me that much — that’s not to say there aren’t current artists I like. These are all general observations though, as The Living Strange pulled me in with their single “Gillisblu” and even more so with their debut extended play (EP), “2 AM Freak Show,” released Friday, October 2.
With futuristic, trippy effects, catchy grooves and dense, poetic lyrics, this EP can be listened to over and over again, and there will still be new aspects to hear. It is no doubt that The Living Strange put as much effort into sound design and production as they did to songwriting.
This attention to detail of sound is most prevalent on the title track. Interspersed through both the quiet and loud sections, you’ll hear sounds that will make you do a listening equivalent of a double take. They sound out of this world, but when accompanied with a simpler, more common rock sound, the two create a blend that sounds fresh and appealing, adding the perfect amount of pizazz to set them apart from similar bands.
With this use of unique sounds, it is important for there to be a sense of control over the chaos and quick shifts in energy. The Living Strange does just that, with an obvious emphasis on being tight and well-rehearsed. With ease, they transverse different levels while maintaining a strong sense of intensity. Whether it’s just acoustic guitar and voice or busy drum fills, a screaming distorted guitar and meaty bassline, the band conveys emotion and vigor throughout.
This is partly due to their shared musical influences, which include St. Vincent and Arctic Monkeys, who also have a similar approach to their overall sound. But with the addition of their eclectic personalities and non-musical influences such as Kurt Vonnegut and Andy Warhol, they solidify themselves as a unique band who is pushing the boundaries of rock.
The Living Strange are currently touring the East coast and plan to tour the West coast later this year. Despite only releasing four songs recently, they are sitting on a lot of material and will be releasing EPs and hopefully an album in the near future. You can find The Living Strange at <https://thelivingstrange.bandcamp.com>.