Diagonals – Valley of the Cyclops

Diagonals - Valley of the Cyclops

Diagonals - Valley of the Cyclops

From Austin, Texas this five-piece brings us a debut album that is both upbeat and a bit gloomy at the same time.  The music begs one to get up and shake it retro-style while both the tone and lyrics cast a bit of a different feel.  The contrast is interesting, something I might expect out of a Quentin Tarantino film soundtrack.  The dusty guitars, double-tracked vocals and swirling organ in “Clown Fucker” made me think of Death Proof, both groovy and ready to kick some butt all at the same time.

An interesting twist to the album packaging is that it is part of a series called “IF” by Monofonus Press which aims to pair music with art.  In the case of the Valley of the Cyclops, the art consists of a short comic depicting a sympthatic yet unitentionally cruel character by Michael Berryhill titled I Could be Happy.   This is the fifth installement within the series.

“Wizard Dome” opens the album pretty strongly with jangly guitars and a wicked groove that I can only describe as go-go rock.  The vocals are pretty monotone and continue that way for the entirety of the album.  The vocals work on this track and well into the album, but somewhere along the line I stop paying attention and my mind wanders.  Ultimately, Valley of the Cyclops starts to take on a tone that pushes its uniquely groovy tone into monotonous territory.  After a few listens the album as a whole still doesn’t stick with me but the general sound does.

Plenty of guitar riffs fill songs like “Neil Diamond Blues” but the stand out musical star would have to be the organ stylings of Wiley Wiggins.  Yes, the guy from Dazed and Confused.  This is definitely the foundation of what makes the sound so unique.  At the beginning of the album I would venture to add the flatlined double-tracked vocals to that list too, but given that they start to sound rather boring after awhile I think the style needs a big of a shake up to stay both unique and interesting.    

The Diagonals have an interesting musical formula and seeing as this is their debut, they have plenty of time to grow and move beyond the confines of a their sound a little to explore new, yet complimentary territory.  The Diagonals style of groovin’ rock with a healthy dose of reverb and retro organ infusion makes for a unique formula that is both dark and dancy.   

Monofonus Press