Blending elements of classic rock, blues, and pop, Brian Askew is carving out a continuously surprising and inventive niche within a genre known for stagnation on his new album, TIMES. Continuously releasing music for the last two years, the Haligonian is showing progression in the fleshed out, ambitious sound of TIMES.
The album begins with “Gas Lighting,” an energetic guitar driven track with vocals slightly reminiscent of Gord Downie’s. Jamming fills out this song, which unravels in the most rock ‘n’ roll of ways (this is a good thing). Next is “The Gates of Heaven,” a smooth number that is decidedly blues tinged. The pace slows rather abruptly as ballad “Luminous Lady” starts, which is rather off-kilter. A really wonderful element of this song is the reverb that Askew’s voice seems to swim through. Paired with wavering guitar lines, a strong atmosphere is created.
Askew’s classic rock influences become really evident in “Happiness,” but then the song takes a left turn and becomes much more melody driven. He really has a knack for keeping the structure of his songs unexpected despite how predictable much rock music can be. Shades of Mac DeMarco are heard in “Lost Child,” one of the most well developed songs on the record. Some energy is lost in the latter half of the album, but picks up by the time the sax rouses listeners in “Modern Day Jesus.” Ending off on perhaps too lengthy of a note, “Baby Why” features a guitar solo, keys, and anguished vocals that are indicative of Askew’s love of classic rock.
Brian Askew is making insightful songs for those who love to hear a melding of rock and pop genres. Him and the other musicians he has worked with to create this album exhibit obvious talent and it shows in this diverse collection of songs. Although slightly inconsistent, Askew still comes out on top by the end of the record. Unique and powerful vocals paired with confident playing and textured instrumentation makes TIMES worth all of its moments.
TIMES is available as a name-your-price download via Askew’s Bandcamp page.
Top Tracks: “Lost Child,” “Modern Day Jesus”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)