Ceremony – Rocket Fire

Ceremony – Rocket Fire

Do you ever get into those heated debates, the kinds that quickly turn into arguments, about the best decade for music? People will always be biased towards whatever specific time they grew up in and it never seems to get anywhere. Craig Finn says 1977 was the best year in rock and roll, James Murphy wrote that the 80s are mostly forgotten, I always hold the opinion that 1959 was the best year for music, period. But who’s exactly right and does it even matter? One thing’s for sure, the 80s are still reigning with albums, bands and sounds from that space of time continuing to influence even the noisiest of bands.

Take someone like Ceremony, a band that contains the remains of Skywave, Paul Baker and John Fedowitz still sound a lot like what their ex-bandmate’s current band, A Place to Bury Strangers, sounds like. Except that for this strong duo, their music is much more focused on the melodic side of pop and how it can still maintain an equal amount of importance, through the cloud of noise. And this noise, which comes at you from inception on “Stars Fall,” is always at the root of their sound. It’s comfortably numb and it permeates an appealing amount of reverb that it channels both what My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth did with their rock; the biggest difference being in the delivery.

On Rocket Fire, Baker and Fedowitz bring out their inner The Cure and offer an impressive slice of standard pop hits. These ten songs swirl past with each one containing a solid three minutes of music into what ends up being a smooth, 35-minute album. And while each song seems indebted to the 80s and their long-standing trademark of melting lyrics and tones, the strongest shift in sound comes from the loudness of the guitars and drums. Even with the aforementioned song’s blast of noise, the lyrics are simple and lovely, “Anywhere you are, you will know” and the same can be said about this music, it’s sure to be well known for its pop sensibilities.

But don’t me mistaken either, because there’s also specific examples of how they’ve kept to their own brand of noise-filtered rock that is neither shy nor meek. On “Don’t Leave Me Behind” the guitars sound as if they are being channeled through a blender, with a squealing amount of atmospherics hidden in the foreground. Booming and uncontrollable, the pair of musicians keep everything loosely in control with a machine-like drum pattern. And though “Marianne” is in a much slower tempo, the wall of sound makes it that much more compelling – even when they conjure up their inner Stephin Merritt, it sounds coyly close to Distortion-era Magnetic Fields.

And definitely take a moment to stare in awe at the awesome cover to the left of this review. The album opens up in a four-part gatefold that makes the lyrics not just easy to read but a terrific pair to the album’s music. For every new guitar riff, the drums come in with a tremendous fill and even better accompaniment. Both members are listed as providing “vocals, guitar, bass, drum machine” so it’s hard to decipher it but on the fresh breath of air that is “Never Make You Cry,” it all comes together as one overflowing hill of volcanic eruption. And that’s what Rocket Fire is about, forgetting about the analysis and influences, letting go and taking off on an explosive ride.

“Someday” by Ceremony

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