It’s come to my attention over the past few years that there are entire genres of music that I had written off for one reason or another. Country music being the one most easily written off, as I tired of the Toby Keiths and Aaron Tippins of the world claiming that they sing country music, when really they rely on similar instrumentation, but make watered down pop songs that just happen to feature a steel guitar now and then.
Hard rock is another genre that, for the most part, I have avoided over the last decade. There was a time that I enjoyed some of the bands playing high-octane scream at the top of your lungs ragers, but as I got older I lost interest in such things. It’s a shame, because a lot of bands are making good music right now in this genre, and I have this pre-determined notion that I don’t like it.
Luckily a group of volume-loving Region Rats (if you aren’t from NW Indiana you may not get that reference) who go by the name Oceans Over Airplanes sent me a copy of their record, Rip The Sky From The Earth. They call it alternative-indie, and it certainly sounds like something you might hear on Q101 or whatever your city’s alt radio station may be. It’s better than most of the garbage I hear when I turn on my radio, though.
Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since I heard an album of this nature that I really enjoyed, or maybe it’s because I lowered my expectations due to the genre, but I thought this record was really good. I’m going to go with the former beacause it really HAS been a long time. I couldn’t even tell you the last hard rock album I could tolerate, let alone like.
A lot of the credit can be given to lead singer/rhythm guitarist Tony Pagorek. In a band like this, I think the singer has the most difficult job imagineable. You’re already singing/yelling at the top of your lungs most of the time, and then you have to find a way to get to the next level. It’s something I could never do, and while I don’t always find the lead singers of hard rock groups all that talented, I think Tony brings something fresh to the table that makes this band a cut above.
I also have to say that I am very fond of a couple of the songs anthemic feel. When I do like this genre, it’s when it hits just the right vibe, and on songs like album-closer “Manchester,” I can definitely envision standing in the middle of the United Center (or some such arena-sized facility) belting out the words:
“Won’t ever go
to bed at night
Because we know we’ll never find you”
Just before lead guitarist Joe Muzyka launches into an explosive Hammett-like solo that makes half the audiences heads explode.
Rip The Earth From The Sky isn’t the greatest album ever made, but it’s certainly better than anything you’ll find on the radio. I like the earnestness of the whole thing, and the fact that the album feels like all the members got what they wanted out of the recordings. At the end of the day, when I think about whether or not a record is good or bad, it comes down to whether or not the band succeeded in accomplishing what they set out to do.
In the case of Oceans Over Airplanes, I would say they not only succeeded, but excelled. The band will be playing a slew of shows over the summer, so keep your eyes peeled and check out their website: Oceans Over Airplanes.