Thursday, 9 April 2009

Free Download Friday #6

Greetings! As you are probably aware, David has made a big mess and is unable to post here for a while. I volunteered to do this week's Free Download Friday post for him, since writing about free music is an area in which I have a little experience (I maintain the Totally Free Musc blog, where I try to post at least once a week about my favourite free music sources that I've found). He asked me to keep it in the "noisy guitar, Blues Rock or Prog Rock area", so I took a look at my notes and decided that this would be a great chance to write about an album that nearly slipped through the cracks on my own blog: Nightmares + Lullabies by Six Red Carpets. I hesitate to call it "prog rock" per se, but with its instrumentation, use of dynamics, and overall concept, the album sounds quite progressive nonetheless.

Nightmares + Lullabies opens with a brief instrumental piece called "The Weaver Call"; piano, synthesized strings, and crashing percussion combine to create a very dramatic sound, setting the stage for great things to come. "Twenty Two and the Charm of Gravity" kicks the album into high gear with a frantic drum beat that is soon joined by a thundering bassline and vocals that sound like a cross between Liam Gallagher and Billy Corgan with an Italian accent. I hear a bit of Radiohead in here too (not surprising, as their press kit lists Radiohead as one of their biggest influences), and the song concludes with a bass outro that brings Geddy Lee to mind. "Here's to the Nightmare" features some heavy, dark guitar riffs that give way to a soaring chorus. The album's best bridge can also be found in this song: a half-spoken, half-sung section that builds and builds in intensity until the tension is released in another heavy section, this time bringing Tool to mind.

There are some mellower moments, too. "Deep Down in Water (Part 1)" has a very nice spoken word outro (incidentally, there is no Part 2 anywhere on this album, leading me to wonder whether they have it planned for a future release or if they just added the "Part 1" as a joke, like Dream Theater initially did with their song "Metropolis Pt. 1"). "Vanilla Scent", probably my favourite song on the album, is a gorgeous song with synthesized strings that really fill out the sound; I also hear a bit of R.E.M.'s "Man on the Moon" in the verses of this song. "Bring Me Noise" features another spoken outro with some beautiful piano playing; this part reminds me of some of the spoken stuff that Fish has done on his own and with Marillion.

Nightmares + Lullabies also happens to be a very well put together package. In addition to the MP3s (which, at 320 kbps, are quite high quality and contain embedded artwork and lyrics), there are 2 PDF files included: one is a short story which introduces the concept of the album, and the other is an e-booklet with lyrics and beautiful paintings for each song (which can be downloaded separately if so desired). It is clear that a lot of care has been put into this album. Their press kit states that "the final result is not comparable with a “big production”", but I would have to respectfully disagree - this package is every bit comparable to past high-profile online offerings like Radiohead's In Rainbows and Nine Inch Nails' The Slip. The fact that Six Red Carpets seem to be aiming even higher than what they've already done has me excited to hear what they come up with in the future - these guys will certainly be a band to watch. Happy listening!


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