Oakland’s Club Night released their debut album, “What Life,” this past Friday and showed the music world that there’s still plenty new to do in rock ‘n’ roll. The combination of vocalist Josh Bertram’s high vocal range and added effects create an unheard vocal style that, among other things, make Club Night sound different from every other band around. “What Life’s” ethereally mixed instruments are layered in a way that creates a textured haze over the songs, but are still individually present enough to listen for the complex, intertwining parts of the whole.
I’ve had this record in my headphones all weekend and I’ve been playing it on air whenever I get a chance. Some of my favorite tracks are “Path,” “Mute” and “Village.”
“Path” introduces the album with a back and forth between a cheerful beat and a catchy guitar riff. As the song develops, distortion slips in and out. The synthesizers add a harmonic foundation to the track as the rest of their instruments play math rock-esque parts over it. Two quick guitar solos cut in throughout the track. While the guitar solos of yore were often an impressive display of skills, these serve as playful, cheeky interjections in today’s indie rock environment. While subtle, I think that they set an important tonal standard for the album. So much music, especially in the independent and alternative scenes, focuses on the sad things, but Club Night is, if I had to reduce them to one word, playful.
“Mute” starts with a relaxed, slow jam but quickly transitions into a high-energy rock song. After staying in the energized mood for about 40 seconds, they again move into a new section. This metrically complex verse switches between grouping eighth notes in groups of three and groups of two, keeping the listener on their toes. Finally, it goes into a loud conclusion, reviving some of the mood of the first section to tie everything together.
“Village” is a soft, beachy bop that, as the penultimate track, leads us toward the conclusion. Bertram really wears his heart on his sleeve, pouring emotion into each word. It’s easy to tell when an artist means what they’re saying, and this is definitely the case here. Short but sweet, “Village” is a great song for a sunny spring day in Boulder.
You can tell an artist knows what they’re doing when the album art looks like the music sounds. The purple, pink and black color scheme gives a perfect impression of the hazy, fun Club Night sound.
Another fantastic release off the Tiny Engines record label, “What Life” is a fantastic debut from Club Night that leaves me excited for what they do next.
Askari is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists