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The Broadcast: From the Horizon
by George Graham
(Independent Release As broadcast on WVIA-FM 8/17/2016)
On this album review series, I gravitate toward recordings that are off the beaten path musically and/or are particularly innovative or imaginative. But most people don’t seek out the iconoclastic, but tend to go for the familiar in choosing their music. And even for someone like me, it’s nice to have a new album come along and is the musical equivalent to a pair of comfy slippers, yet still has a degree of spark and energy. So this week, we have a band called The Broadcast, and their new album is titled From the Horizon. What The Broadcast does is timeless straight ahead rock with some Southern Rock influence with a female lead vocal. They show very tasteful musicianship throughout.
The Broadcast were originally based in New York, but they decided to move south to Asheville, North Carolina. From the Horizon is their second full album. Their previous independent release Dodge the Arrow did quite well, selling over ten thousand copies, which is impressive for an independent recording. For the new album, they connected with veteran producer Jim Scott, who has worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Tedeschi Trucks Band. brings a definite sonic spark to this band who epitomize the kind of sound that Scott is best known for. The Broadcast journeyed to Southern California to record with him.
The Broadcast is co-led by vocalist Caitlin Krisko and guitarist Aaron Austin, with Tyler Housholder on percussion. Producer Scott brought in a couple of players with whom he frequently works, keyboard man John Ginty, a veteran of our Homegrown Music series, and who really shines on the album, and drummer Michael W. Davis. The bassist is Ted Marks. They form a tight group with the tasteful kind of classic approach of bands from early 1970s, with a driving but appealing sound. There are hints of early Allman Brothers Band and very early Doobie Brothers, except of course, for the female lead vocals. Ms. Krisko has the perfect voice for this kind of thing: she’s bluesy and soulful but not a screamer. Their material is appealing, but hardly profound lyrically. It’s one area where the album falls a bit short. Many of the lyrics almost seem to have been assembled cut-and-paste style from phrases from rock tunes of the past. But that does not much matter. This is not very profound music to begin with, but good rock to groove to and not think too hard about. And at that, it succeeds very nicely.
Opening is a track called Steamroller, not to be confused with the bluesy James Taylor song of the same name. It’s a fine example of how the band has absorbed the essence of the classic rock era and breathes life into it. <<>>
The band gets funky on occasion in the context of their retro sound. Double Down brings out that facet of the band. <<>>
Another appealing aspect of The Broadcast is how they can get acoustic at times. Sign It Off takes advantage of that sound, and can evoke the early Doobie Brothers. It’s further bright spot on an album full of musically strong material. <<>>
From the Horizon tends to get more interesting as it goes along. The sixth track Every Step mixes aspect of a strong rocker with bit of jam band tendencies. <<>>
No set by classic-style rock band like this would not be complete without a song about being on the road playing music. Bring It On Home fills the bill and adds some of the funky aspect of Southern rock. <<>>
The Broadcast’s Aaron Austin gets bluesy with some slide guitar on Battle Cry another original song which evokes a past era but which fits the group like a glove. <<>>
The well-programmed album concludes with an acoustic ballad, the title piece From the Horizon, highlighting the main duo’s laid-back side. <<>>
Big original ideas are exciting in music, but familiar styles executed with a lot of class also makes for edifying listening. The band called The Broadcast mines familiar territory of 1970s blues rock and Southern rock influence, in what today would be called Roots Rock or Americana, and does it with all the right touches. It helps to have veteran producer Jim Scott, who goes back to the original days, behind the board. Scott’s sparkling production raises the level of this band even more with just the right touches. Scott was also the mix engineer and did a great job. The two principal members of this Brooklyn-formed band transplanted to North Carolina, vocalist Caitlin Krisko and guitarist Aaron Austin, who co-wrote all the material, are a great musical team, supplemented by some a couple of great studio musicians, including keyboard man John Ginty. While their music, especially the lyrics are hardly innovative, their album ends up having all the right stuff.
On the subject of sound quality, as mentioned, Jim Scott’s mix is first rate, but mastering engineer Brian Lucky degraded it by using indiscriminate volume compression to crank up the loudness so that everything is pretty much at the same maximum volume all the time. It’s a sad but all-too-common story.
There are a lot of roots rock bands around these days from several generations, from the folks who were performing when the styles were first emerging decades ago, to up-and-coming young atyists who in some cases are better at the style than the original. The Broadcast is one of those. They do everything right and their album From the Horizon is one whose welcoming sound won’t fade after successive listenings.
(c) Copyright 2016 George D. Graham. All rights reserved.
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