By Ellen Eldridge
The Memorials released its self-titled debut much to the excitement of The Mars Volta fans and those who have been following the prestigious career of Thomas Pridgen, the band’s drummer who founded this project. A fine line between soul music and music to break up a thick pot-fog in a college dorm, The Memorials take a calculated approach to pop melody by structuring sprawling guitars across a foundation of dense drumming. Pridgen, a former Grammy Award winner, decided to forge ahead with Berklee College of Music friends, Viveca Hawkins on vocals and Nick Brewer on guitar, to create a more personal sound which reflects truer creative intentions.
The start of the album, “We Go To War,” unleashes an assault of pounding drums and, as the second-longest track on the album, it envelopes the listener with its rhythm. The length of the track gets broken up when, at about two and a half minutes, the song slows down and the vocal part gives way to spoken lyrics layered over harmonic, backing oohs and ahhs. By four minutes into the song, the guitars crackle and distort, but give way to the drums which kick back in by minute five when the real soloing begins and vocals return. The true dynamic of the three band members’ working together makes The Memorials memorable from this opening track all the way through to the untitled, unlisted track closer.
Without a doubt, one of the sure-to-be favorites is “GTFOMF” in its ¾ time signature punctuated on beats two and three by the whap on the snare drum. To rave about the drums would be a disservice to the well-blended vocals that bring these songs together. For a three-piece act, power and thick, crushing sound pervade. The addition of a bass, organ, synthesizers, and percussive elements during the recording process truly round out the debut without leaving the listener with any fear of a live act not measuring up.
Surely, fans of artists like The Mars Volta, Norma Jean, Blackalicious, Wolfmother, and No Doubt will get a kick from the intensity and passion of The Memorials.
The Memorials play The Five Spot on January 28.