Song By Song Review: Imagination Head’s On/Off

Imagination Head is one of those indie style bands that frequently get passed up by most people’s musical radars. Their latest effort On/Off is an adventuresome attempt to break away from the mold that is so commonly associated with indie-esque bands.

The album begins with an “Intro” that is ambient and textural, but also seems to have a hint of the 80’s Nintendo generation behind it.

“Violence” the first true song, steps up and delivers in style with hooky 60’s style vocal harmonies and a rhythm section that has groove and feel to their pocket. Although some of the instrumentation feels less powerful than it could be, the band is able to sell the song with their feel good vibe and almost “bubble gum pop” sounding hooks.

The next song, “Shattered Diamond,” is one of those tunes that is all about the vocals. Each voice in this song is able to establish its own sense of character. The female vocals compliment the male lead in a timeless fashion; all while the band uses an intimate sense of dynamics to create an internal hook all of its own.

Summer Sky,” track 4 on the album, changes up the instrumentation a bit to keep things fresh. The drums switch to brushes and the acoustic guitar really shines with an airy strummy pattern. The song comes by its name honestly. This track makes me look forward to the summer when the windows will be down and music blaring from everyone’s cars. The synth sounds and textures are very tasteful and help give this song a soundtrack vibe that would fit in any movie.

“Society” is a simple song with a simple story. While this song is sure to capture the bands more indie based fans, I find that the looseness of this track is almost distracting. Although not my favorite song, it’s still beautiful in its simplicity.

“Tomorrow’s Garden” is the very definition of this bands strong points. The feel-good rhythm section stands back in the spotlight to help support a great vocal. The harmonies are smooth and the sense of counter point melody really catches my ear. The bridge of this song is perfect. If you want to know my favorite parts of Imagination Head, you need look no further than the bridge of this song.

“Directions” cuts the album in half with a filler track that is all ambient synth textures over spoken word. Although interesting on the first listen, I find myself skipping this track on repeat. Interesting beyond a doubt, but not as much of a song as it is a filler.

“T.V.” is a rolling bluesy tune that grooves from start to finish. Simple concepts meld with interesting synth textures to give this tune another character that hasn’t been introduced yet on the album.

“Christmas Trees on Fire” is a ghostly themed tune with haunting slide guitars and a very lethargic vocal delivery. The female background vocals make their mark on this track. It has a western/folk feel that I find to be captivating.

“Sitar Song” is exactly what it sounds like, a croony tune that features a sitar part. One simply has to give this group props for their constant instrumentation changes. The bells and acoustic guitars meld with the sitar part to support a very honest sounding vocal performance.

“Plastic Rain” is a straightforward tune that begs to be sung along to. Simple in its form and execution, this song is more about singing along with the vocal than anything else. The rhythms are a bit predictable, but isn’t that what you would want for a sing-a-long style tune?

“Every Sun Has It’s Shadow” finally shows that this band can jam and experiment in ways that they didn’t explore on the rest of the record. They finally stray away from the straight line and expand into something great. One of my favorite songs on the album, ‘Every Sun’ manages to haunt the listener with dissonant gang vocals, while the drums and bass get their moment to shine.

“You Are Everywhere” is another perfect soundtrack song. It possesses a sense of openness that I wish was more prevalent on the first half of the album. The band finally manages a perfect blending of their soundscape designs and the storyteller vocals. ‘You are Everywhere’ definitely showcases the polar opposite sounds that the band has access to.

The last song on the album, is a bluesy/western number with a rolling, walking guitar part. The vocals come in to help introduce a western ‘rolling thunder’ theme. A perfect choice for the end of this album, “Customer Sunshine” manages to take the atmospheric sounds to a new level before introducing one of the catchiest acoustic guitar parts on the record.

I can really see the potential of this band as they move forward. Although “In/Out” has it’s ups and downs, it is definitely a note worthy effort from a group of truly talented artists. I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

-Jason Gillespie

Jason Gillespie is an up and coming producer/engineer whose work includes critically acclaimed albums and soundtracks including Ruthie Foster’s Grammy nominated album “The Truth According to Ruthie Foster”, Puscifer’s “V is for Vagina”, Wax Fang’s “La La Land” and the Great Debaters soundtrack.

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