The High Ceilings – The Edge is as Safe as the Ground

The High Ceilings
The Edge is as Safe as the Ground

I’m sorry, did someone say rock? Cause if you did, The High Ceilings heard you. That’s right, this band rocks at the drop of a hat. Not in a nu-metal sort of way and not in a just-got-out-of-the-garage-way, either.
On The Edge is as Safe as the Ground, their first full-length release, The High Ceilings are breaking out the old school Zeppelin/Big Star-type moves, and it looks pretty darn good on them, too. Max Heinegg and Chris Blackburn play big, loud, crunchy guitars that soar, tangle, and resonate. Ron Riley pushes out pulsing, melodic bass lines while John Farrel pounds pile-driver drums. Huge vocals (Heinegg again) deliver what are often surprisingly poetic lyrics (turns out Heinegg is a published poet) without a drop of sarcasm or irony. And they try really hard to play their instruments well, with technique and stuff. Weird, huh?
I know what you’re thinking. Haven’t we been here before? Hasn’t “hard rock” already been done? Well, yeah, but so has punk and hardcore, but that hasn’t stopped the entire teenage population of Orange County from smashing their SGs into a Marshall stack, has it? This is rock created by a band that obviously has a musical history (or at least interest in rock) past 1992. When you listen to this disc, it’s immediately apparent they’re playing this music not because they’re all nostalgic for 1983, not because they don’t “get” punk or post-punk, but because this is the music they want to be playing.
It’s a monkey-see monkey-do world we live in, folks, which is why I have to respect The High Ceilings for not cashing in with a mall-punk sound. That’s not to say that this album isn’t ready for the radio, because it definitely is. Songs like “Mayfly,” “Sunset,” “Silt,” and “Precipice” show off songwriting talent, insightful observation, and the aforementioned ability to deliver slabs of the hot rock. There’s also an undercurrent of real, true optimism on this record. It’s interesting because, more than anything, optimism is really passé. especially with ye olde Middle Eastern conflict revving up again, people are pissed off and cynical. The hopeful spirit that runs through the lyrics and music on this CD is honest and simple, and it really works.
With our airwaves in the grips of Clear Channel and their ilk, I just don’t see bands like The Hi-Cs having much of a chance, though. The music industry wants a saleable commodity, which most often isn’t music played with conviction, a sense of history, talent, or, heaven forbid, optimism. But who knows? After all, Norah Jones did win a ba-jillion Grammy’s this year. Maybe the fortress is starting to crumble…