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Taken from The Progressive Subway (Jun 20, 2024)

Review: We broke the weather - Restart Game

by Ian

We Broke The Weather - RestartGame coverart

Style: Prog Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Math Rock, Jazz Fusion, "Garage Prog" (clean vocals)
Recommended for fans of: The Mars Volta, Thank You Scientist, Closure in Moscow, Mr. Bungle
Country: United States - MA
Release date: 14 June 2024

In today's streaming era, many have contended that genre is "dead", but I wouldn't quite agree. Just because artists and listeners alike are less pressured into certain boxes doesn't mean that the sonic palettes of genre aren't still there to draw from. If painters can mix their pigments, that doesn't make color "dead", now does it? And now, here to craft their own unique blend of musical hues, we have Boston's own we broke the weather. Claiming influences ranging from jazz fusion to psych rock and doom metal, they have given their style the intriguing, almost self-contradictory moniker of "garage prog". It's an interesting label, combining the rough-and-ready, unpretentious connotations of garage rock with the heady, intricate, and often quite pretentious realm of prog. But how do they make it all work out?

For the most part, the answer is "Quite well, actually". While the approach taken on Restart Game is indeed quite diverse-it's got complex mathy touches, headbanging, hooky choruses, spacey interludes, and not one but two saxophones-they shift between different elements adeptly, making sure that they're not throwing too much into the mix at once. Over the course of the album's svelte sub-40 minute runtime, the band pull off numerous outright bangers, each of which offers its own set of twists and turns. From the way the sunny, uptempo riffs of "Lake St. George" shift into a more unsettled, tempestuous mood and back again to the way closer "Cycles" builds from a calm, reserved groove to a ferocious freakout of a solo section, there's a surfeit of inspired ideas on display here. The most resounding success, though, comes with lead single "Marionette", which busts down the gate with a sax riff that can only be described as "skronky" before storming through a set of hard-charging, organ-driven verses into one of the most energetic and undeniably catchy choruses I've heard all year. Combine that with the killer contrast and buildup from the acoustic guitar-led bridge, and it's a shining example of what we broke the weather sound like when they fire on all cylinders.

As it turns out, the "garage" in "garage prog" manifests itself in a sort of looseness in the band's playing, a willingness to exchange a bit of the sheen of clockwork perfection favored by some other prog bands for more of a gritty, immediate, "live" feel. While this approach does have its drawbacks, it does make the more upbeat tracks hit with an infectious energy that makes me think these guys would be great to see in person. Of course, the "prog" element is still here in full force, with odd meters and virtuosic solo work aplenty, but the scrappy, garage-y nature of it all keeps things from feeling too self-indulgent. In fact, the performances are rock solid across the board, though I have to give special mention to Kev DiTroia's lead guitar, which manages to capture both the tons-of-notes complexity of prog and a more primal, rock-out energy in a way reminiscent of Rush's own Alex Lifeson. Vocal duties are shared among three members, and though drummer Andy Clark has the most distinct tone, lending his reedy, Jon Anderson-esque tenor to "Lake St. George", cofounders and co-saxophonists Nick Cusworth and Scott Wood put in some nice vocal work as well. And of course, Cusworth and Wood also provide ample layers of excellently played woodwinds, which lend a jazzy, Thank You Scientist-type feel to the album and often trade solos with DiTroia's guitar.

Still, I mentioned there were drawbacks to the whole "garage" approach, and chief among them is the fact that, while the looser vibe works great for crafting powerful, hard-charging prog rock jams, it tends to be a bit hit-or-miss when it comes to the spacier, more out-there side of we broke the weather's sound. This dichotomy is particularly apparent in the nearly nine-minute opener "Vestige", which starts off promisingly with a commanding "whoa-oh-oh" from Cusworth over layers of guitars, evolving through intricate sax-and-mallet-percussion melody lines and slower, melancholic verses. But it all goes a bit sour during the song's midsection, when the band attempt a layering buildup from a single isolated synth line. They're evidently trying for a sort of Gentle Giant-style interlocking polyrhythm of instruments and voices, but the problem is the parts are just sort of slapped on with little in the way of rhyme or reason. Heavy guitar chords and dissonant vocal parts enter and exit out of nowhere as if the band accidentally recorded some parts with the wrong tape speed, and the end result is something of a train wreck. And then, as if to remind us that these guys are actually talented, the song ends with Steve Muscari grinding out a punchy, kickass fuzz bass riff as DiTroia unleashes a wonderfully shreddy solo over the top. A jarring contrast, to say the least.

Of course, this isn't to say that the slow parts are all inferior-"Sevenseas" is a nicely foreboding slow burn with a strong payoff-but on the whole the album could have done with a bit more polish, and the cracks are more noticeable when things slow down. It shows in the little things, like how some of the individual parts don't quite have their beats synced with one another (most notably in "Heavens Were a Bell"). It shows in the odd production misfire of having Clark's drums sound anemic and undermixed, neutering his otherwise-strong performances and making the many dynamic contrasts throughout the album not land as hard as they could have. There's also the poorly-considered "Aromatic Decay", a languid, strummed guitar instrumental with a few unsettling synth bits thrown in that, at over three minutes, is too long to be a simple interlude, yet it doesn't have enough drive or melodic variety to stand on its own as an instrumental track. It comes off as filler, which isn't a good sign for an album with seven songs and a 39-minute runtime.

Despite these complaints, though, I quite liked my time with Restart Game. It's a generally well-played album in a style I enjoy, from a band with an original sound and a clear abundance of talent and passion; an album whose alternating vibes of creeping dread and triumphant defiance effectively match the lyrical subject matter of dealing with the anxiety, uncertainty, and general psychic trauma inflicted upon us by Covid, climate change, et cetera. But this emotionality and talent hasn't been refined quite as well as it could have, and it's disappointing to see a group with the potential to make something incredible stumble at the finish line to make something that's just good. These guys are still early in their career as a band, though, and the title of the album offers a certain degree of hope. They've cleared the game well enough already, but if they restart, I have faith that they can go for the high score.

Recommended tracks: Lake St. George, Marionette, Sevenseas, Cycles
You may also like: Karmic Juggernaut, Eunuchs
Final verdict: 7/10

Related links: Bandcamp | Spotify | Official Website | Facebook | Instagram

Label: Argonauta Records - Bandcamp | Facebook | Official Website

we broke the weather is:
- Andy Clark (drums, vocals, percussion)
- Kev DiTroia (guitars, percussion, synthesizers)
- Nick Cusworth (keys, synthesizers, vocals, tenor sax, flute)
- Scott Wood (guitars, vocals, alto sax, percussion)
- Steve Muscari (bass, guitar, synthesizers)




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