EACH MONTH WE PROFILE AN ARTIST THAT ABSOLUTELY KOSHER RECORDS PROVIDES US WITH. WELL, ACTUALLY THIS MONTH THE RELEASE WILL BE FROM MISRA RECORDS, BUT AB KOSH WANTED US TO BRING THIS ONE TO YOU. FOR FEBRUARY, MEET SOUTHEAST ENGINE.
A band needs to distinguish itself – is it creating music for itself and hoping someone likes it? Or, with apologies to Depeche Mode, is it creating music for the masses? If it’s the former then the band is doing what it prefers and not letting others influence it. Southeast Engine has definitely taken this path and made the music for themselves on their latest, From the Forest to the Sea. A personal angle shows up in their creative stylings as the music is clearly not for everyone but rather a specific niche audience. This disc is the band’s fourth full-length album and it is apparent they are no beginners. This is an intelligent offering aimed at an intelligent audience.
A bit of Wilco comes out with their alt-country twang, or maybe even some James Taylor, but they also stick with the art-house bands such as Sun Kill Moon or the Magic Numbers. Minimalism parallels all of the aforementioned artists works eerily. But most tellingly, Southeast Engine doesn’t really match with anything I can think of despite my best efforts to do so. Since I’ve been trying to do so for a week that says something. I would normally say to a fellow music fan: don’t worry, you’ve heard it before. It’s that unoriginal. Yet, at the same time, it’s so original that I can’t think of the band or bands that I want to comfortably use as a reference point.
The music itself is dark, introspective, brooding, and quiet at times. Emotive, perhaps even depressing. The lyrics are full of soul searching and introspective questions. Vocalist Adam Remnant looks for a little bit of god, happiness, and well being throughout the album. The album is aptly named, with descriptive song titles providing suggestive illustrative landscapes for the listener. These titles almost make it a concept album following in the footsteps of the Streets or the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It was recorded in rural Ohio and some of that isolation comes out in the sounds and words. The backwoods of our country can be beautiful and uplifting but also lonely and spooky if taken the wrong way. Southeast Engine have definitely let the ghosts of history catch up with them.
“Two of Every Kind” is a bit more upbeat, with nice piano accents and is a welcome change of pace. The overlong ‘oooooooh ooooohs’ get annoying, but one has to assume Southeast Engine was trying to be artsy with that move. There’s a catchy rhythm to the lyrics. “Sea of Galilee” has a fun piano part to it as well. “Malcontent” is the bands’ attempt at creating a true rock song, but their strengths definitely lay elsewhere.
The band showcases talent and desire on this disc. It might not be for everyone though, and that is certainly a strong suit. Next time you’re ready to lock yourself in your room and ruminate on the meaning of life, this album is the perfect accompanying soundtrack.