The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Music Review-Stone Iris Grande National

By Kenney Kost/editor-in-chief

Photo courtesy Kamelcorn Records
Photo courtesy Kamelcorn Records

With its second release of 2013, Canadian outfit Stone Iris rides a blues-rock groove interspersed with reggae, psychedelia and classic Americana.

Grande National doesn’t break any ground musically, but it showcases the band’s talent in flowing from genre to genre with ease. With intricate guitar work building into swelling choruses and solid vocals and harmonies, the album holds its own in a crowded genre.

Vocalist and guitarist El Niven shows his versatility by jumping from straight rock melodies into reggae flows and even deeper, more personal melodies that require patience and skill to achieve.

The rest of the band falls right in line with Niven. Whether it’s a straight rock song or an experimental twist on a genre, they never miss a beat and deliver an interesting experience for the listener.

That being said, the album has its share of ups and downs. The opening track “Hard to Stay Cool When …” is nothing that hasn’t been done before by any number of bands in the genre. Dual guitars over a standard rock beat lead into the swelling chorus. Rinse and repeat.

One thing that stands out is the writing. Niven tells vivid stories within the context of the music, giving the tones and rhythms life. Tracks such as “Longview” and “On A Roll” are good examples of this.

The former starts with an eerie didgeridoo sound followed by some intricate picking work on guitar. “I’ve been riding so long, I’m running out of empty space” speaks to the desperation in loneliness and the yearning to fill a void from the past. The guitar solo in the song, while not that long, glues the song together toward the end.

The stand out track on the album, “Dead of Night” captures the essence of the band’s experimental nature. This psychedelic-reggae-filled tune takes the listener through the dark places where Niven and the band find their inspiration.

The opening line says it all: “To make your mark, they say you need your light but I find darkness is the way I like. The dead of night now.”

On their website, the band says they are a brotherhood of like-minded musicians and playing music is what they live and breathe for. The statement is accurate. The band feeds off of each other’s energies and lead each other through genre-bending jams in a way that only a tight, close-knit group could do.

If you like Southern rock and want to try something a little different in the genre, pick up Grand Nationale.

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