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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Ashpark

Life In Satellites

Review by Larry Toering

Ashpark are an exceptionally exquisite power pop outfit from the Boston area with very folkish inclinations that give them a unique identity that others tend to fall short of these days. Melodic but with an edgy intimacy that is most evident in all of the tracks on this release. They describe their sound as  “alternative loud pop,” which also fits. They're an interesting trio to say the least, consisting of Ariel Aparicio, Chris Burk and Chris Barnes.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Life In Satellites
The light vibe is instantly established as this opening number sets up the moods to follow. While not exactly the most impressive track, as it is the title one, it does leave one of the best impressions on the disc from the second the vocals come in with a nice bit of falsetto here and there to showcase the vocal skills. A lot of spacey atmosphere fills the air as it progresses into a slight burst of intensity at the end of this terrific showcase.
Slow Breaths
This is more of the same with a real kicking bass factor and some higher energy behind it. It tends to slip beneath the delivery of the first track, but loses nothing in the process of getting there. More falsetto is featured, as it becomes obvious that will continue. This is simply another great piece of music with a very emotive chorus and some clever guitar lines.
Move Forward
This one is instantly different than the previous two, with a nice acoustic guitar leading the way as the vocals nicely match the pop prowess. It is great stuff!
Castles
More acoustic sweeping gets underway as an electric touch flies over it, and then a great song forms out of it with bursts of unexpected energy throughout. This is much more abstract than anything we’ve heard to this point. It’s another nice tune with a romantic groove to it. The tune is very 80s styled, yet very modern and eclectic sounding, which was actually typical of this type of thing in those times. This is quite a nice throwback to say the least, and one of the better numbers on offer. In fact, I would likely see it as the best track on the disc.
This Condition
This is a rather extraordinary point on the disc, with everything from acoustics to various time signature changes that take the arrangement back and forth. A very nice pop tune this is, and one of the more accessible tracks on offer. Excellent lyrics explain the condition in question very well.
Kilometers Deep
More pop stylings keep this track grounded, but it tends to have that James Blunt approach, which might be a good or bad thing, depending on the tastes of the listener. But the influence is quite felt and hard not to notice on this otherwise interesting melancholy tune.
Still Unknown
Keeping in the same vein, it's more apparent that the previous influence is very apparent, but it also results in some pop perfection in this more lovely ballad laden examples.
The Riddle
This picks things back up, but somehow doesn't flow as an entire track as well as something like “Castles” or '”This Condition.” It's still one of the more interesting tracks and one I tend to revisit frequently.
Enemies
The prodding of this number tends to give it an unfinished appeal, but the melody smooths that over just enough for some great guitar tid bits. It’s not one of my choices to run to but still somehow belongs to the set as much as the rest. This is just a little more of what I would see as filler material, if there is any here.
Smile
This isn't what I would call a filler, like the previous tune, but it does lack something the others have.
Find The Love
They saved a great tune for last. By this time you're either enthralled with the entire vocal approach to the songs, or simply not, but the musical arranging on this disc is difficult to deny in its art as anything but purely fantastic.
 
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