Before I get started with my review of Simeon Soul Charger’s 2011 debut Meet Me In The Afterlife, I should mention the twp Eps that came before (self titled - 2009 and All Rather Dead - 2010), which are available only from the band. I feel that they’re both important as they show the beginnings of musical styles that lead up to their 2011 full length debut release, Meet Me In The Afterlife.
Simeon Soul Charger is quartet hailing from the Mid-West (U.S.A.) and consists of Aaron Brooks (lead vocals, guitars, keyboards), Rick Phillips (guitars, vocals, mandolin), Joe Kidd (drums, vocals, percussion) and Spider Monkey (bass, banjo). Currently they’re on tour in Europe and getting excellent feed back from their audiences.
Meet Me In The Afterlife released on Yogi Lang’s (RPWL) label, Gentle Art Of Music. Back to the album, it contains 13 tracks ranging between a minute and 11 minutes. The music never outstay their welcome and warrants repeat listening, which make available previously unheard sounds. I lost count how many times I’ve listened to all of their music. If I had to make a quick description of the music here, I’d go with something of an electric/acoustic, psychedelic, vaudevillian art-rock mixture.
From the moment I first heard their full length debut, Meet Me In The Afterlife, I have instantly gelled to their music. Their music has so many influences like glam rock (70s), to art-rock and so many more. They even have some songs that feature an Americana vibe. Now the singer, Aaron Brooks, reminds me of two people - one, the late great Kevin Gilbert and Dexter Holland (The Offspring). There others but I’d like for you the listener to hear and explore for yourself.
Opening up this album is “Vedanta (The Nothing)” (5;46) which features a frantic version of The Beatles or any 60s UK Invasion band combined with something that reminds of Kevin Gilbert’s works before his untimely death with that of Jellyfish‘s Andy Sturmer.
They slow things down with the next track, “God Lends A Hand” (2:41) with a slice of Americana of yesteryear. Several more listens of this sound reveal (to me) as not a preaching song, but something more of about the early god fearing Americans of the early 1900s.
“Through The They Talk” (4:54) returns the sound to the more aggressive vibe of the first song, which conjures up the Queen influence I hear on and off throughout the album, which is more in the delivery of the vocals and guitars of the earlier Queen albums before they polished up their music.
Next we have “Tooth” (2:10), with it’s jungle beats and sounds, connects the previous track and “And He Skinned Them Both” (8:00) which explore more of the multi-part vocals that made Queen famous. There’s also something akin to recent offerings of Danny Elfman on this track.
Returning to the more Americana sound, “Please” (6:35) features some banjo playing. This time there’s a bluegrass vibe through-out the song.
The band jumps back into a modern rocking sound on “Europa‘s Garden” (6:19), which have that 70s glam/art rock vibe throughout. (In my opinion) Aaron’s vocals again remind me of a mixture of Jellyfish‘s Andy Sturmer and Dexter Holland (The Offspring). Then with the appropriately titled “Europa‘s Garden reprise” (2:04) ends off the themes of the main song in a more acapella style.
“Into The Afterlife” (6:15) has a bluegrass vibe in the beginning, which goes back to that Americana vibe frequented throughout the album. Then it goes into rock mode around the 4:29 mark then adds some blues around the 5:00 mark. It ends off in a more “electric” version of the beginning. It just perfectly segues right into “Song Of The Sphinx” (2:52) which has a acoustic blues of the vaudeville era which segues into the next song. “A Child’s Prayer” (1:15) which has a acoustic symphonic vibe about it and continues right into “Dear Mother” (2:48), an acoustic, turn of the century (1900s) type of song that reminds me of the vocal/acoustic part of the Queen song, “Seven Seas Of Rhye” towards the end.
Ending off the album is a twisted old-time carnival sounding song, “The Swallowing Mouth” (11:09). I’m again reminded of Danny Elfman’s soundtrack work, then around the 5:20 mark, the band goes “electric” and brings the music into a more modern bombastic sound.
In closing, there’s a lot of musical styles here to digest but it’s the kind you love to relive over and over again. So I’d recommend to the true music lover to take a chance and purchase this album, Meet Me In The Afterlife, as soon humanly possible. Your ears will thank you over and over whether you’re listening with headphones or with a stereo system blasting at full volume. This is one of the best releases of 2011 and it has quickly become one of my favorites.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on May 25th, 2011