Editor’s Note: The Rocket Summer will be performing tonight at The Social in downtown Orlando. Freeline Media music critic Heidi Bolduc takes a look at the band’s latest LP, “Of Men and Angels,” and asks: is this band worth a trip to see them live in the City Beautiful?
To most musicians, writing, recording, and producing every single song on a 15 track album would seem like an arduous task; but for Bryce Avary, the voice behind Christian pop rock “one man band” The Rocket Summer, an album assembled any other way simply isn’t an option.
On his newest release, Of Men and Angels, Avary uses this approach to his advantage, seamlessly weaving a wide array of instrumentation into a seemingly never-ending series of poppy power chords. And yet, an overwhelming theme of struggle seems to pervade this album — an element that is sure to take many longtime fans of The Rocket Summer by surprise.
Packing a strong punch of inspiration, the two tracks “Roses” and “You Gotta Believe” open the album on an upbeat and optimistic note. Pounding drum beats and chorus-styled vocals on both songs help to set this tone throughout the first half of the album.
But fast-forward to Of Men and Angels’ fourth song, during which Avary speaks of his personal difficulty in attempting to “stop fearing death and never look back” and an impending sense of reality begins to creep in. In this respect, it doesn’t come as quite a shock that the first single released off of the album, entitled “Walls,” is in the style of a somber ballad.
In a lot of ways, the haunting piano melodies serve to convey the newfound maturity embedded within this album, an element that truly makes it stand out among the band’s discography. And the good thing is that behind every solemn ballad, there seems to be an empowering anthem of hope, which provides a pleasing balance. It seems like no coincidence that just as there is “light at the end of the tunnel,” there also happens to be “Light” (literally) at the close of this album.
All in all, Of Men and Angels is perhaps a much more complex release from The Rocket Summer. In questioning the world around him, Bryce Avary manages to achieve in his fourth studio album what many musicians work towards for decades.
The Rocket Summer performs at the Social at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance, and $20 on the day of show. The Social is at 54 N. Orange Ave. in downtown Orlando. To learn more, call 407-246-1419.
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