Music, musings and more from the mind of Ben Averch.

Monday, July 03, 2006

"Washington State" on CDReviews.com

"Washington State" on CDReviews.com
Written by Michael Sutton

Avoiding the Pac Northwest gloom, Ben Averch creates a hard rock album with life in it. [7.3.06]


Having lived in the place of Ben Averch’s album title for nearly 20 years, I can confidently say that the music does capture the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest. Averch named it that simply because the album was recorded and mixed in Sammamish, Washington. And, yes, it does have a largeness of sound to it, the direct influence of driving through long, empty roads filled with mountains and trees.

Averch avoids the gloom that the Pacific Northwest has been famous for since the rise of grunge in the early ‘90s, and that’s a good thing. Frankly, it’s been done to death for the past 15 years, and it feels longer for people like myself who was there and listened to grunge when it was still percolating in the underground. Averch takes a different approach, applying life-affirming lyrics to hard rock that echo the Emerald City’s thunderous icons in volume but not in precision. Averch isn’t into sloppy riffing or punk rock aesthetics; his songs have the weight of grunge but not the dirt. Instead, one can hear the science-lab clarity of Rush, especially on the thrilling “Cloud Cover” and the toe-tapping “No Division.”

Those who are alienated by progressive rock for its coldness and lack of pop hooks will find Averch’s take on the genre to be highly accessible. Averch doesn’t lose his soul in the technical details of his instruments although considering he played everything by himself he easily could have. Being a writer myself, Averch’s ability with a pen was even more impressive. He writes songs that might take you a minute or two to fully comprehend, but when you do you don’t feel as if you’ve eaten a pound of baloney.

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