Hearing Aide: Animal Sounds ‘Layers’

One of WNY’s tightest and most eclectic rock groups is back with a new album release on July 3. Rochester based indie rock band, Animal Sounds, has a great discography already, with early material like “Ghosts” paving the way for their first full album, Ennui. It is important to take into context how the band’s music has matured over the past few years. Layers is a whole new beast, with intricately crafted structure and infinitely danceable tunes. Animal Sounds hasn’t compromised on what’s made them an indie staple in the area while continuing to grow.

The album’s opener, “Layers,” is a great exemplification of how the band can mend and bend the genre’s they write around. The core of the song is a dance-able, Young-the-Giant-type-groove complete with wobbly keys and deft guitar work. While the hook and the vocal performance are worthy of the spotlight, the guitar parts and drum feature early on showcase how technically sound their musicianship is. The song breaks out into a New Orleans style brass section before diversifying into a chill and bouncy bridge. The drop downs in the song really make the chorus hooks shine through. One track in, and the album already makes a strong impression.

“Rollin,” the second track, hits heavy with a bluesy, Steely-Dan-style guitar lick underneath reverb-soaked vocal ooh’s. Little hints of shoegazy, early Modest-Mouse-type guitar parts play beneath the verse lyrics. The bass thrusts the song onward into an energetic chorus. Again, the musicianship is stellar as the band navigates very tonally different verses and choruses without missing a beat.

The third track of the album is really a unique sound for the group, with a mix of their essential indie, along with a more twinkly guitar background- similar to some of the tones you’d expect to find on a math-rock album. Some of the guitar parts come off as math-inspired, but they never stray from being rhythmically accessible. The bass tone on this song hits heavy and offers more thickness while the drums provide a straightforward pulse.

“Blue on Burgundy” yields a nice, solid dream-pop feel that remains energetic but gives the album a great dynamic arc. The guitar compositions and their harmonies are so well written and performed here, hitting that perfect point where the guitars meld together and sound like one single instrument. The band’s foray into more jam-type music here (as well as at various other points in the album) pays off in a big way. The solo sections never hang on too long, and what’s being played never comes off as inarticulate or ‘noodly.’

Lastly, “The Feeling” brings the album out on a heavy note. The baritone guitar licks match the bass to create a really thick sound. A theme throughout this album has to be the thickness of the low end. It lends to bouncier drums and allows the guitar and vocals to sit well. The mixing holds up really well and offers plenty of easter eggs worthy of searching for indulging numerous listens. A true dance album with wonderfully designed tones and mixes, Layers is a perfect album for summer playlists and heavy listening. Animal Sounds will be doing a live-stream show on July 3rd, to benefit a local Rochester venue, Photo City. Check out the event here, and catch Animal Sounds live on release day!

Animal Sounds is comprised of Erick Gordon (vocals), Shawn Brogan (guitar), Alex Brophy (guitar), Zach Jonas (bass), and Angel Figueroa (drums).

Key Tracks: Layers, Blue on Burgundy

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