Rock music doesn’t always have to center on overdriven guitars and guttural vocals sung at speaker-breaking volume to win us over; sometimes rock can be sensitive, elaborate, colorful and eccentrically arranged as it is in Canyon Diablo, the stunning debut record from Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite. Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite aren’t your typical indie rock band, and their first studio affair is hardly your typical indie rock album. It’s a sonically intense, physical record that evokes an equally physical reaction out of its listeners. If you’re the kind of music fan that enjoys calculated compositions more than raucous, ramshackle performances, you can consider this album required listening this fall.
The glistening “Don’t Lay Your Fate” highlights one of Patiently Awaiting the Meteorite’s best attributes – their ability to emphasize harmony amidst controlled chaos. The song blends an acoustic string arrangement with a tension-building, pulsating percussion that sort of lurks in the shadows of the track. We get wrapped up in singer Dee’s intricate melody from the start, and before we know it we’re trapped in the insular tinderbox that PATM has stitched up around us. Trying to resist their affectionate sway is futile – I would recommend simply embracing their angular tonality instead.
There’s a strong post-punk vibe to Canyon Diablo, but its music isn’t so left of the dial that casual listeners would have a hard time getting into its intrepid grooves. I get the impression from this album that PATM doesn’t want to be as easily categorized as some of their contemporaries are. There’s too much variety, too many unfiltered bursts of complex catharsis for this to be labeled a standard rock record, but there’s also enough pop sensibilities to keep us from classifying it as a straight up art piece. There’s no question thatCanyon Diablo was meant to rouse our aesthetical perceptions, and it fulfills its destiny more than adequately in its ten intriguing tracks.
“Devil’s In My Car” could be described as the pinnacle of streamlined songwriting, and I found it to be a much more reserved song alongside all of the vibrancy that its nine companions bring to the table. This track shows us that PATM can slow down and play a dirge with as much passion as they can a sprawling psych-pop track, and it also adds a splash of volatility to the middle portion of the album that wouldn’t exist otherwise. I’m curious to see if they produce more songs stylized in the same vein as this one in the future, as it might be the most tangibly relatable in their debut album.
Canyon Diablo boasts an engaging listening experience for anyone who enjoys deeply conceptual music, and it also serves as an excellent addition to the emerging surrealism movement in modern rock n’ roll. There’s a lot to study in PATM’s first record, and even a hardcore music enthusiast would have a hard time listening to this LP twice and walking away with the same interpretation either time. It’s a remarkably ambitious way to enter the pop music lexicon and I thoroughly look forward to hearing how they choose to follow up on its surprisingly wide-reaching impact.
Bethany Page, approved and posted by Jamie Morse