RECORD REVIEW: Southeast Engine – ” Wheel within a Wheel” – Misra, 2007

seengine_wheel

Adam Remnant, Southeast Engine’s principle penman and visionary, is a Dayton native living currently in that mythical berg of Athens, OH… a town often described as sleepy, dreamlike… you get the picture. Let me tell you about the Remnant’s house: piano, keyboard, drum here, drum there, harmonica, violin, organ… zounds of guitars. And that is not to mention the collective musical talent of the various characters often to be found lurking in and about the Remnant household on a given day: Adam Torres (backing vocals, guitar) lends a capable hand in the realization of Remnant’s musical vision, with distinct vocal harmonies that have become perhaps the most recognizable aspect of the band’s sound. Jesse Remnant (bass, keys), another Daytonite and recent addition to the band’s live lineup, and Leo DeLuca (drums), co-founding member and major hunk, round out the live band, which has recently completed its first tour as a quartet.

The new album is not exactly a departure from the band’s previous sound. It is rather the culmination of efforts, experiments, and emotions that have unfolded since 2005’s “Coming To Terms With Gravity”. However, “Wheel” differs in that it is a decidedly more cohesive sounding album than its predecessors.. “Wheel”, while not a departure, is unarguably an evolution of the Southeast Engine sound. The frequently laid-back melodic alt-country sound that had warranted countless comparisons to Wilco in years past has now evolved to warrant pointed comparisons to Okkervil River and My Morning Jacket–the new songs have a sense of yearning and importance that was absent on previous releases.

The album is put together in a manner such that the listener remains captivated for the entire 42 minutes… there is no coming up for air when you’re submerged in this album. And it’s pretty gosh-darned deep. “Wheel” is a veritable clinic in musical and thematic variations, song to song, bridge to chorus, hook to hook to delightful hook; the result is a soundscape as colorful and appealing as the album’s cover art. A new fancy is tickled with each lyric, ranging from the depths of despair and alienation (“Oh God…”, “Pursuit of Happiness pt. II”) to the highest heights of… well… despair and alienation (“Psychoanalysis”, “Taking the Fall”), but heights no less. It’s not melodrama, it’s just all-fired emotion beautifully articulated and sounded-out in a way that only Southeast Engine posses the ability to do. One thing most people agree on– it’s a damn fine album. Unless you like shitty music.

-by Jamie Rymers