Time and Energy

Time and Energy, I do applaud you.

If there’s one thing that I can say with certainty about Strange Kind of Focus, the sophomore album from this California-based experimental indie rock duo, is this: it’s aptly named. I can’t say that this album is for everyone, or even say that it’s all that accessible, but some solid grooves and stronger indie rock elements make for some good entry points for fans weary of the band’s more off-beat side.

Some tracks are overwhelmingly layered and loud which can be off-putting (frankly, they made me feel a bit uncomfortable). Split Clean is undeniably the most experimental track on Strange Kind of Focus; the group establishes a good groove, then denies it with broken riffs and sax lines, only to offer a different feel — and then rob us of it again. Although these transitions kept my interest throughout, it was frustrating to not be able to really get into a track before it moved on to another composition. Dadada is next in sequence and it, too, has some strange moments. At times, the vocal harmonies can have the near-effect of nails on a chalkboard.

Those criticisms aside, there are a lot of solid tracks on the album. O’Molly is the strongest featuring one of the best grooves I’ve heard in a long time. Thought Forms is another. The vocals sit well on the bass line and the guitar runs are tight. Acid Jam features some well-placed falsetto and rim shots.

Finally, whomever it was that did the fun trombone-esque vocal line in Think It Through — well done, sir. You nearly fooled me.

Multi-instrumentalists Jorge Rios and Brennan Roach know what they’re doing, and they’ve definitely found a balance between the familiar and the experimental — but the duo remains unwavering in its exploration of sound.

Strange Kind of Focus will be self-released by the band on November 16.

By Erin Torrance, a recent Publishing graduate venturing into the world of music. Erin lives in a flea-market chic apartment in Toronto with the love of her life and best friend — her cat Bea.

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