Earlier this year, the Levity Ball discussed the first half of what would eventually end up being a double part high concept high adrenaline rock epic from the band, Post Trauma. ‘Sleepless, Dreamless’ is a two-parter. Where ‘Sleepless’ was released in January, ‘Dreamless’ is the counter-cultural response to it. The former was a more laid-back country effort. It was not without its dark undertones and seedy nature of the beast. It was rock/pop/country turned dramatic. ‘Dreamless,’ on the other hand, is pure eccentricity. It is, on its purest level, hard rock. You hear bits from Staind, Godsmack, and Jane’s Addiction pop up here and there. But in Songs like ‘Don’t Mess With My Heart, the band deploy this poppy upbeat nature. ‘The Jerk Off Song’ sounds like a modern punk rock riffing, playing on the 4/4 instrumentation of regular punk/pop but using lyrics that seem to mock the genre indubitably.
This second half of the record works when the band attempts dark psychedelic rock elements. ‘The Kiss’ is haunting and somber. Opening track ‘Come Alive’ sounds most like the late 90’s brethrens Post Trauma are so obviously influenced by.
The trio of Post Trauma consists of Billy Ulrich, Kenny Ulrich and Joey Gnoffo. They all love music so deeply, so admirably, that it shines through their music. The obvious sign of this is their catch-all attempt at driving various music styles in one big slightly embraceable load. Pop elements pop up here and there. Songs turn much darker than expected and turn much brighter moments later. Pseudo-sunny country leanings take hold, and hard atmospheric hard rock drives many of the songs. In the end, the band’s love for so many styles makes ‘Sleepless, Dreamless’ even more overwhelming, beyond the elements of it being a double album. But the band knew they can not efficiently add so many grand ideas into one compact 12 album release. They pace themselves. They add elements into ‘Dreamless’ that were totally vacant from the first half. It took a lot of effort to complete this album based purely on the sound of it. It is equally sparse just as often as it is thickly layered, bombastic, and sinister sounding. But what grounds the album is the constant drive of mysteriousness. You never quite pinpoint the songs. They are constantly evolving and changing amoebas, and as a listener you pick up on quips and odd accents you missed the first time around. But let’s not get carried away. ‘Dreamless’ is still based in pop territory. ‘Baby Let’s Go’ plays things a little too safe for its own good, and ‘Shot Down’ stems right from the book of classic Van Halen. With a big opening hook, the song is certainly darker than what Van Halen is known for, but that does not make it not a pop rock song at heart.
For an album well over an hour, it is only appropriate that the thing is so, um, diggable. Poignant examples of broken love, blurring reality, and the timeless state of dreamlessness all culminate in one of the most ambitious musical projects I have come across in a long time. Where some bands are happy releasing a modest country pop EP and calling it a day, Post Trauma have more to say. They want you to feel the music. They want it to be approachable- but not too approachable. Catchy, but not too catchy. They want the music to have a purpose without being so self-indulgent it alienates everyone twice over. They walk these lines gracefully and, arguably, brilliantly. Post Trauma succeeded in accomplishing exactly what they set out to do, to make music with a soul that is neither black or white, plain or complex, but constantly changing and trying new ways to imagine.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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