Million Year Dance brings unique sound to ‘Liberation’ EP

After a few spins of Liberation, the EP by Houston-based group Million Year Dance, I’m a bit hesitant to write a review.

The ambient sounds of the album have left me in an almost hypnotic trance with a sense of calm, which seems almost sinful to sever with words of song break-down and analysis.

I had given up on CDs altogether. Why pay $22 for an album when only two songs are really worth listening to? However, after being blown away by Million Year Dance’s performance at the Stardust Room last Friday, I picked one up and decided to give CDs another chance.

Wow.

My faith in compact disks was gradually restored as one song ended and the next began, each track as captivating and magnetic as the last. In this post-Britney/K-Fed world, it’s rare to find music like that, without exception, is dripping with inspirational fervor and loiters long in the memory. Somehow, all six tracks of “Liberation” do just that.

The album opens with the powerful piano playing of Steven Wetherell in “Divine Intervention.” Jonathon Welch’s vocal gymnastics contributes to the track not as a dominate force but rather another instrument brilliantly braided into the mix of guitar riffs, soothing synthesizers, and prevailing drum beats by drummer Andy Beaudoin. The guitar-based fill after the first chorus, while classic, is comparable to today’s Minus The Bear.

Welch belts out the lyrics a cappella to the next track, “Dreams of a Vacant God.” During the refrain, I couldn’t help but wonder if Freddie Mercury had reincarnated himself to challenge Coldplay to a karaoke sing-off.

“Always Been” is hypnotizing with its fluid chorus while “Honey and Mud” is more upbeat with a touch of indie rock and jazz. While bassist Nic Houston comes to life in this song, the echoing, no-clutter bridge of “love is our new drug,” brings the track full circle.

The track eases to “Gambling for Jewels,” which brings a cool keyboard to the riff and the album concludes with “The Deep” which is an acoustic, unplugged showcase of Welch’s vocal range.

While Welch has a voice that can sing the telephone directory and still move an audience, the album is not recorded around the lead singer, which makes it stand out from today’s music. The six tracks extenuate the talents of the individuals of the band with each part fitting into a plan executed with precision.

With the familiar elements of jazz beats and groggy space rock, Million Year Dance has put together an album that focuses on rhythmic consistency over forcefulness and simplicity over complexity. Each listen reveals new layers of sound from the interlacing programmed beats to the tuneful satisfying hooks. I don’t think I’m out of line in saying these gentlemen have managed to serve up a slice of psychedelic, music heaven.

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  1. Lazarus

    Great review. Although I feel I little left out, considering I was the only band member not mentioned, and I not only played the guitar parts but also recorded and produced this album.
    -Doyle Odom

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