Friday, February 13, 2015

Album Review: The Great Balancing Act (2015)

This article has been co-written by Editor "Captain" Gen and "Underling" MJ. This is MJ's Ninja Fish debut.

2015 has started, and that means we can look forward to a new year of music. Unfortunately, the groundhog has predicted six more weeks of winter, so you'll have to wait a while for this spring release: The Great Balancing Act from This Way to the Egress.

[Captain: Groundhog? Really? That has nothing to do with the release date.
MJ: It sounded like a good idea... I think it adds nice flavor.
Captain: If you say so...]

The Great Balancing Act features a dozen unique and enticing tracks from the multi-genre, flavorful sound we've come to know and love. It all started with a dream in mind and an empty fund jar.

Egress turned to their fans and Kickstarter for help. The Kickstarter goal was just over 9k and within 27 days, The Great Balancing Act was fully funded - and then some! Fans banded together, eager for another album. One shy fan we reached out to (who would like to be anonymous) had this to say...

MJ: When you heard of the Kickstarter, how excited were you?
Fan: Um. I was pretty excited. I didn't really have anything to donate, but I passed the link around to everyone I knew.
MJ: And that's how we found it.
Fan: Yeah.
MJ: Are you going to buy the album as soon as it's released?
Fan: Of course! You know, I didn't even know about them until Mighty Seed and their tour with that, but now I listen to them all the time.
MJ: What do you think this new album will be like?
Fan: Awesome! [Laughter.] Seriously, though. I think it will be really incredible. They are just so passionate about their work and it really shows in their music and performances. You can tell that they love what they do and when they're so happy and in love with their work, you can't help but love it too. Anyone who listens to them live or just from their albums can immediately feel that energy. So, I think this album will be just as great, if not greater, than their others.
MJ: What would you like to see more of from Egress?
Fan: Anything! [More laughter.] I know how much goes into recording albums and touring, so I can't be too greedy. But I'd love to see anything they do. Especially if they play at DragonCon again. I missed it when they were there last, and I heard it was a lot of fun. Also, I don't know if they do this, but it would be cool to see more videos. Not like music videos or anything - though that would be pretty cool. But just more of them. Hanging around, busking, talking about their instruments. More stuff about their lives. I saw that behind the scenes video of them and loved it. It would be cool if every week or two they had the time to post up even just a minute long video of something they do, no matter how mundane. Like an Egress web show! [More laughter.] That's just my own personal wish. But, yeah. I won't be too greedy.
MJ: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Fan: Yep. No problem!

Behind the scenes with This Way to the Egress...



It goes without saying that The Great Balancing Act is certainly a highly anticipated album. There are twelve tracks in total, two of which were named by the Kickstarter backers: "This Side of Jordan" and "Rogue Trip."
 
Track listing
1. Let's Not Pretend
2. So It Goes
3. Earworm
4. What Do You Want
5. Tarantella
6. You Never KNow
7. This Side of Jordan
8. Devil's Breath
9. Rogue Trip
10. Not Around
11. We Won't Go
12. Lucy, a story about your mother.

Captain and I picked a couple of our favorites since we can't review them all, and discussed them together:

MJ: So what's your first pick?
Captain Gen: The first track, Let's Not Pretend.
MJ: I was going to pick that.
CG: Well, I went first.
MJ: Fair enough. So what did you like about this track?
CG: I enjoyed the steady rhythm. It's easy to adapt several styles of dance to. The vocals blended with the melody, but didn't get lost in it; instead they took the spotlight, weaving together effortlessly. Not to mention the lyrics. It's very enjoyable piece.
MJ: Nicely put. My first pick, after the one you stole from me-
CG: Bitter.
MJ: -was Tarantella. It starts out with this light, music box sort of melody and then transitions into a spiral of creepy imagery.
CG: I enjoyed the tempo change around 1:16. It reminds me of the last half of 6 Count Swing from their album Mighty Seed, about 1:41 I think it was. The tempo slows and then slowly builds up again. It's a great technique. I always admire how their songs are unique, yet somehow tie into the rest of their work.
MJ: Those are very precise times.
CG: [Shrugs.] I come prepared. My next pick was Devil's Breath. I really had a fun time listening to the rich vocals on this one. Actually, I loved everything about it. It was something unexpected. I don't want to reveal too much, but there were some new elements embedded in their signature sound; just a couple of things, but they made all the difference in transforming the track as it progressed. Last pick?
MJ: Rogue Trip. Without a doubt. "...it's the desert's decision..." And, indeed, the opening of the song sounds like something you'd hear in a western film with a slight twist. "He's jacking your mind up, he stares with his good eye. He tells you a story of death." I'm addicted to this song. The imagery - everything about it makes me feel like I can see it unfolding. I feel like I'm taking a long drive through the desert.
CG: And of course you grew up in the Arizona desert, so I'm sure there's a fondness for the nostalgia it invokes?
MJ: Oh, yeah. Big time. It makes me think of the heat and the landscape, the countless hours driving on long road trips... I really enjoyed listening to this track with you. I can't wait to buy the album when it comes out. This will be my road trip music for a long time.

[Captain: So I think it's time you wrapped it up.
MJ: Can I tell a joke?
Captain: Is it a joke or a pun?
MJ: ...Never mind.
Captain: I thought so.]

The Great Balancing Act is set to be released on May 19, 2015. Their single We Won't Go will be put out on February 23rd. If you like This Way to the Egress as much as we do - or just listening to great music -  you should make sure you keep up with them through their Facebook and Twitter. Want to check them out live? Click over to their events here.

Happy Friday the 13th! Check back tomorrow for a Valentine's and Anti-Valentine's playlist!

- Underling MJ and The Captain

Egress would like to give mention to Stefan Zenuik for his contributions of bass and sax clarinet, and thank those who made the album possible, including their fans!

Ninja Fish thinks this is great music to... discover life with.
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