Escape Velocity


aec.scat75.2 9/19/06 New
$11.19 $13.99

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Review Text The concept album might seem an artifact best left fossilized in rock's Jurassic past, when '70s progosaurs filled double- and triple-vinyl sets with thematically unified song suites, frequently bloated with ostentatious musicianship and lyrical attempts at poetry and philosophy. People often forget, though, that some of the concept album's antecedents lie in the pre-prog '60s with the Beatles and the Who, among others. Tapping into that rich seam of influence, Finn's Motel give the genre a respectable power pop makeover. Songwriter Joe Thebeau contemplates the human condition through the lens of automotive culture, mixing rock with popular physics in a song cycle examining our place amid the universal dynamics of speed, space, rest, and motion. The idea itself isn't exactly original -- this album joins a long tradition of records about lone males and their cars traversing America's highway landscapes -- but Thebeau's version and execution of that narrative are fresh and compelling. The coexistence of obtuse Wire-esque titles ("Recent Linear Landscapes," "Exit Strategy Failed," "On the Need for Repeatable Systems") with a more populist rock & roll idiom ("Alright Tonight," "Highway Hawk," "Arizona Sandstorm") highlights a duality at the heart of this record, as Thebeau blends an arena rock sensibility with something far smarter and subtler. Evoking the Replacements, Cheap Trick, and Swervedriver, among others, Escape Velocity balances widescreen vision with an eye for detail across 17 tracks that range from found-sound ambience (on "Postcard") to meditative acoustica ("Hangover in an Aging Suburb") to stadium-sized, pedal-to-the-metal anthems ("Accelerate and Brake"). While "Alright Tonight" crosses the line into generic, one-dimensional territory, overall this is a finely wrought collection, rich in contagious melodic hooks and brimming with infectious energy. There's an abundance of ideas on this sonic road trip, along with plenty of intriguing tangents and detours, but the parts and the whole are always in perfect equilibrium. ~ Wilson Neate

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Dramamine for Engine 3 - 4:24
  2. 2. Accelerate and Brake - 2:19
  3. 3. Highway Hawk - 1:14
  4. 4. Recent Linear Landscapes - 3:59
  5. 5. Alright Tonight - 4:36
  6. 6. Eero Saarinen - 2:31
  7. 7. Physics of Drunk Driving - 3:50
  8. 8. Hangover in an Aging Suburb - 4:49
  9. 9. Exit Strategy Failed - 1:03
  10. 10. Concord Village Optimist Club - 3:36
  11. 11. On the Need for Repeatable Systems - 1:12
  12. 12. Of Cycles and Engines - 3:07
  13. 13. Shrinking Violet - 4:56
  14. 14. Postcard - 2:41
  15. 15. Arizona Sandstorm - 3:26
  16. 16. Equilibrium - 4:50
  17. 17. Universal Hum - 4:14

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