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ALBUM REVIEW: The Callas ‘Am I Vertical?’

the callas2It’s hard to guess what the artists that are The Callas were dreaming of when they produced Am I Vertical? — the band’s debut album produced by Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds/Grinderman.

With a beat that wakes you up as if the Gestapo is pounding at your door, the thirty seconds of “Lust Lands” accurately elicits the dark, artsy, sometimes moving, sometimes lusty and didactic sound of the album, and puts The Callas on the map as the freshest thing out of Brooklyn.

Track 3, “East Beat,” is an instant favorite. The guitar isn’t as distorted as it is on the other tracks and instead sounds like a grungier, experimental version of the classic “Misirlou” by The Del Tones in the opening scene of Pulp Fiction. This is met by a chanting from the lead singer, who has a husky deep voice and a Greek accent — an exquisite addition to the sound. The chorus has a refreshing combination of female and male vocals, and the track has unique lyrics, featuring a cute little lyrical rhyme: “Beast east beast, I came for the feast, I came for the feast and it feels like this.” The track is the first single of the album. The video was directed by Angeliki Hatzi and Maria Damakalid.

Throughout the album, The Callas achieve a really cool dark sound, but there is a lack of variation between the tracks, as few stand out as true originals, allowing most to blend into monotony. At times the album lacks depth. On the other hand, lust, the central motif, is delivered well in “Lust Lands,” “Anger,” “I Hate You But I Like You,” and “That’s You”.

The album gains momentum with “I Wonder” – a song about the possibilities of wondering. It stands out because it has more motion and the lyrics are more thought provoking. Some of the guitar riffs sound similar to pop-punk, which allows for some nice cross-genre action.

Still, this album wants to be developed further. There are a couple of gems but there’s room for more. “Octopus Love” brings us back to the beat we heard in many of the other tracks, but the guitar is slightly less melodic and the lustiness of the album has turned into a lament emphasized by the loss of distortion and a soft echoing.

The title track is last on the album. “Am I Vertical?” has some more of that “Misirlou” guitar; one of the better touches on the album. It’s a nice closer, and ultimately the best way I can describe the album is that it feels like sleeping and skipping between dreams and nightmares all at once.

You can check out their music, purchase a CD, or buy concert tickets here.

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