Roan – The Avenue – 79%

The Avenue cover art

From the depths of Sin City Las Vegas, Roan is a one man project that recently released “The Avenue” back in July. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Roan is that on his bandcamp page he lays out the meanings of each of the 8 tracks on the album. The 27 minute album kicks off with a low-fi and downtempo electronic feel amidst an ambient backdrop. The album sheds it’s electronic feel when drums finally make an appearance and heavy spiraling guitar starts to fill the lower mid areas of the sound stage. This combined with various layers of keyboards makes for a hypnotic and soothing vibe.  “Clydesdale” is a track that begins with heavier layers of distortion as a guitar whines in desperation. At less than 10 minutes into the album and we’ve already seen 3 very different sounding tracks. Interesting.

The album’s title track is a short 1 minute interlude of random guitar plucking with a low-fi feel that helps set up the next track “Cardinal…No, Thunderbird”, which happens to be the longest on the album at just over five and a half minutes. The track opens with a laid back slowed down vibe that soon is met with glossy layers of distortion. “Green Valley” follows suit and is a slow ambient number with dashes of keyboards that would make a band such as The Album Leaf proud. “Black Mountain” takes a starkly different approach with fat thick doomish guitar layers that are used to represent betrayal. Again, this is a track that sounds nothing like anything else on the album up to this point as Roan‘s sound continues to transition and change throughout the course of the album. The album comes to a close with “Sunset Park” as deep bassy ambiance fills the air leading to the sounds of children playing. High pitched keyboards among the heavy field of bass is blissful and relaxing as the album comes to a close.

You can really get an idea for what Roan is trying to convey in their music and that’s definitely a huge plus. That being said, the constantly changing and varying styles make the album as a whole rather hard to get into and gives it an unfocused and abstract feel. The Avenue is decent from a music standpoint, but ultimately as a collective it lacks the album feel that comes with the synergy of similar styled songs. Luckily for Roan, the post-rock genre is all about shunning the norm and developing your own style and sound, which clearly he has done. My biggest complaint could just end up being the one thing that helps set this album apart from the crowd.

Pay what you Want on bandcamp: http://thesoundofroan.cc.cc/album/the-avenue