Artist: Yellowline Music
Album: Almost Something
Genre: Alternative Rock
Sounds Like: The U-Men, Lou Reed, Radiohead
Technical Grade: 5/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 5/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skills: 7/10
Best Songs: Undertow, Empty Wish
Strengths: Creative and artistic overall sound and ambiance, the songs are put together well
Weaknesses: Vocals are definitely not for everyone, limited in terms of musicianship
Yellowline Music is a Seattle-based project that has three releases to date. Translterate in 2011, L F A in 2012, and the most recent effort, a seven-track EP titled Almost Something, which recently came out this month.
A majority of the songs on Almost Something might be most aptly described as an ambient-inspired fusion of Lou Reed and Radiohead. The vocals and overall artistic sensibilities across the album, such as the simple, acoustic driven compositions and stripped-down, contemplative, and somewhat cryptic lyrical content, all point toward the same type of experience that a record like Lou Reed’s Transformer communicates. The vocals are very much in the style of Lou Reed, and although they are certainly not for everyone, they have there share of quality moments throughout the record. Perhaps the greatest example of Yellowline Music’s sound, where all of the elements come together, is the fourth track, titled “Undertow”. The track’s dreamy, ambient atmosphere is complimented by howling, melodic guitars and a signature vocal smoothness that seems to appear in abundance mysteriously, having not really been present in the introductory tracks of the album. The finished product is a 1990s encompassing alternative experience similar to that of Radiohead’s sound, which continues through the next track, titled “Empty Wish”. It’s almost as if the first part of the album is more Lou Reed orientated, (aside from the first track, “Drag the Harbor” which almost sounds like a less-aggressive incantation of The U-Men) while the second part of the album becomes much more 1990s alternative with a sound that suggests influences of Radiohead. All of these influences and sounds come together to create a set of seven-tracks that appear to be artfully conceptualized and definitively unique.
Taking these assertions into consideration, Almost Something is a hit and miss effort that definitely isn’t in the realm of mainstream, radio-friendly interests. The Lou Reed style singing, while seen as an indication of originality and raw sincerity by some, will undoubtedly be interpreted by others as a simple lack of vocal talent. Moreover, many of these tracks come across as a little too basic and stripped-down, and are in need of augmentation and embellishment. The first track, “Drag the Harbor” is an example of this, and probably would have done better with a full kit of drums throughout instead of a periodic tambourine to compliment the vocals and guitars. Almost Something is an album that appears to be somewhat undecided on its musical direction, integrating a more acoustic, stripped-down approach to songwriting with a more elaborate, electric, 1990s alternative sound. The album might have been more striking if there was a better since of unity to it.
There is, without a doubt, potential in Almost Something for what it can offer from an artistic, creative, standpoint of musical originality. While the technical musicianship on the EP might not be the most sophisticated, it’s a record that is capable of producing a sound that, when everything comes together, is very attractive, considerably polished, and high quality. What Yellowline Music should decide now is what musical direction they are going to take to develop their sound into a more unified, definitive experience.