Who: New Design
Where: Ellen’s Bar and Grill
When: 19 March 2016
In one word: Lovely
The post rock genre is one that is difficult to describe to somebody who hasn’t listened to the music first hand.
Generally driven strongly by effects laden guitars and spacious drum lines, post rock is a modern genre of rock music that evolves through ambiance and setting.
The style of New Design is very much influenced by these factors. They pick up fast, the songs, and they aren’t afraid of bursting out into punk-y anthemic choruses or bridges to add more energy to their sound.
Each song New Design played at Ellen’s was full of this ambient energy and artistic flare. And, not to mention, a couple band members were celebrating their birthdays with the show so there was an extra element of friendliness to the night.
As if waking up in the middle of a thunderstorm and stepping outside in your pyjamas to watch the lightning, the music is very surreal sounding.
It is almost like listening to the auras of nebulas and galaxies in space; very distant sounding yet hits close to home emotionally.
And Jeff (vocals and guitar) has a voice that sounds like those guys we all grew up listening to when we were first discovering music and wanted to hear something that sounded special.
The tonality of his voice definitely has that special quality or timbre. It is hard to describe but without any doubt it blends in perfectly with the overall atmosphere of New Design’s creative sound.
Not to mention how effortlessly he plays guitar leads while singing soulful melodies, often without even looking down at his hands.
Towards the end of the set they played a cover of one of my favourite songs of all time, Goodbye by Toe.
And the cover was played with great precision considering the musical technicality of the song and Toe’s live performances of it.
From the slicing snare syncopations to the delay-influenced noisy guitar fills before that last hoorah leading to Goodbye’s brilliant conclusion New Design owned the song and made it their own without changing very much in terms of notation or style.
From the perspective of somebody who has never heard Toe’s music before you would just think it is another one of New Design’s original songs.
There is a lot of similarity, especially in the asymmetrical tonal rhythms and calculated ambient timing.
When I say ambient timing I’m not trying to be needlessly abstract. I’m instead reaching for a style of music that involves hearing a rhythm that is unconventional and fusing it with other instrumentations to create structure that would not exist without that mixture of multiple different rhythms.
Maybe I didn’t explain it right, but the power that comes from those kind of structures and song patterns has a lot to do with this (see below).
Without this range of effects and sound manipulation available it would be very difficult to pull of the style of melodies and musical lines that New Design toys with.
And it goes without saying that learning to play correctly with each of these effects is a mini-art in itself.
There is not much that sounds better than a crispy guitar lead with some nice bass and drums tagging along for a spacey ride.
And then its all over and we all want an encore.
No surprises. The set was killer and the room was full of that golden post rock dynamism that we were all tripping over ourselves to discover back in high school.
And now we have it and its not going to go away unless you pry it from our cold dead fingers.
© Shaun Fitl, Music Vice
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