Cole Ford - Broadway Trash
Quite honestly, the opening track off the EP, "The Chosen One" is likely to push you beyond your comfort zone and into an area where all your preconceptions are going to be challenged. A standard medium-paced MoR rocker suddenly jolts out of its niche, and with some heavy chords which could remind you of any one of half a dozen metal bands, thumps into your consciousness and leaves you feeling rather shaken at the end of it.
If you haven't been listening already, you certainly are now. So when the gentle piano fugue of "Meaning" begins, you are half expecting another shock to the system. Sure, it picks up a pace, but the song has a Beatles-esque quality which surprises you once again. If you are going to be jolted it is by some rather atonal percussion which defies investigation but sounds rather like a saucepan being hit with a spoon. Then again, it is more likely a synthetically-generated sound. More experimental than the opener, it is an equally uncomfortable listen in many ways.
And that is where you are within ten minutes of the start. Even the more conventional third track, "Remembrance in the City", reminiscent perhaps of Gravenhurst or even Arcade Fire, has an underlying feel of something sinister, not in a scary sort of way, but as if it originated in some alternate universe where the musical forms are somewhat different from our own. Yet any attempt at pinning this down is ultimately going to be futile. As if to emphasise this, the opening bars of "Storms" created in my mind images of spaceships landing while an elderly Chinese monk played an electric version of an erhu through some oddly shoegaze effects pedals. Odd then that the final track, "Monsoon Days", should be the most conventional sounding track of all.
The weakness in the EP lies not so much in the music or the fact that you are continually being challenged (which some do not take to), but in the vocals. Ford has a voice which takes some getting used to and I am not sure I ever did get used to it. In some ways it is a voice without character, but that would be doing it an injustice. Ford's voice operates within a fairly narrow range and is rather challenged when asked to hit the higher end of that range, as it is on "Remembrance in the City". Occasionally, the voice seems to lurch out of key ("Monsoon Days"), but I could not guarantee that this was not a deliberate act.
Listen to this not for the vocals, or even for the lyrics. No listen to this to experience something that is quite different from what you might expect. Broadway Trash will push the boundaries of what you feel is acceptable for the moment. And in pushing boundaries, Cole Ford has created something which deserves repeated listens. If you seek instant gratification in music then you may not find it here. But if you are prepared to be patient, each new listen will unfold a new layer of insight into a music which initially may not be to your liking.
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