Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Review: Reissue of The Rising Storm's 'Calm Before...'

The artists that make the most concerted effort to be futuristic often end up with the product that most fails to stand the test of time. A couple of days ago, I reviewed Sundazed’s reissue of the debut album by Ultimate Spinach and noted that its psychedelic progressivism sounds pretty dated today.

Now compare that to Calm Before…, the debut of fellow “Bosstown” band The Rising Storm. The disc commits such unhip-in-67 crimes as loading up on the soul and blues covers that no longer cut the mustard in the year of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Yet the way that this group of high school kids effortlessly transform warhorses like “In the Midnight Hour” and “Big Boss Man” into their own creations is more legitimately progressive than anything on Ultimate Spinach. The Rising Storm can’t help but make atmospheric music. This is no doubt partially due to the guys’ unique approach to music making, but their lo-fi production values deserve some credit too. There’s a definite Velvet Underground vibe to this stuff, and a version of Love’s “Message to Pretty” would fit seamlessly onto the Velvet’s eponymous third album. However, the group surely makes its most halting music when handling its own compositions whether they are rocking through “She Loved Me” or painting in lysergic watercolors on “Frozen Laughter” or “The Rain Falls Down”. Calm Before…is one of those forgotten albums that really lives up to the myth building.

It also makes good on the descriptor “rare.” The Rising Storm only printed up 500 copies of their self-released album, selling half and either giving away or keeping the rest. So Sundazed’s vinyl reissue is particularly necessary. The packaging is very nice too with liner notes in the gatefold, a bonus 11” x 17” tour poster, and yellow vinyl.
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