Boxcar Hex – ‘SONIC SUNRISE’
- Diana Bath
|click to pre-order sonic sunrise|
A request quite unexpected from singer/songwriter Boxcar Hex. But most everything about ‘Sonic Sunrise’ is quite unexpected. Weighing in at thirteen tracks and just under forty-two minutes, the solo full length debut from the New Jersey based artist is a ride for the ear and mind.
Sure, there is still some of that signature Boxcar Hex singer/songwriter vibe in there. Songs like ‘The Future is Hers’, ‘Ends Up Next to You’ and a slowed down version of ‘Stillwell and Surf’ (song previously recorded by ¡Löco!) all could be on Boxcar Hex’s previous release, the EP ‘Boy From the Heights’. But that’s where the similarities to the Full Throttle Folk star end.
The title track ‘Sonic Sunrise’ leads us off. It’s a feedback and synth cacophony that sets the stage for the experience of the album. It simmers down to the previously mentioned ‘The Future is Hers’, an acoustic romp which suggests we hand the keys over to the females. Then, the line.
“I need a mother fuckin’ beat!”
It comes from ‘Books With Words’. It is a heavy romp that talks about the progressive mental laziness of society, ending with a feedback onslaught.
Other highlights of the album include ‘So They Say Again’, ‘Seeing People’ and Hex’s tribute to Chris Cornell, ’52 (The Sound is Gone)’.
The album at times feels disjointed. However, after multiple listens you can feel each track feeding into the next. Along with the aforementioned heights mentioned, low points like ‘<blank simulation>’ (while it does include the ode to romance ‘Passion and Poetry’, it is too clever for its own good) and ‘Who Why’ (a punky train wreck) do not truly drag down the collection. In fact, the way they flow into the tracks before and after allow them to be transitional preludes.
There will always be questions about this album. From mumbled, buried vocals to the inclusion of the tongue-in-cheek rap track ‘My Old Brooklyn Home’ playing in the background, Boxcar Hex has truly done his own thing on ‘Sonic Sunrise’. And maybe only he knows why. However, his decisions have put together a fluid album. A perfect length with no filler (OK. ‘<blank simulation>’ is pretty filler-like). An album that challenges the ear. Challenges the mind. Makes you tap your toe and pound your first. An album that makes you think.
‘Sonic Sunrise’ is an album for its time that will resonate for years to come. * * * *
Pre-Order your copy of Sonic Sunrise here.
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GHIPOP music contributor Diana Bath