Approaching the closure to their set last weekend at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, the London born Alberta Cross kept spirits alive, playing “…one from the new album.” The rejuvenating “Money For the Weekend” boosted energy throughout the venue, and does just that as the opener to the band’s recent EP, The Rolling Thunder.
Opening for Portugal. The Man in support of their stellar new album, In The Mountain, In The Cloud (reviewed here back in July), Alberta Cross proves to be worthy of the attention following their 2009 full-length, “Broken Side of Time.” Two years later, this five song EP sees the band following form. At just under twenty-five minutes long, it’s a meritorious tasting of what this band is all about.
The aforementioned “Money For the Weekend” is the sort of catchy, hit-worthy rock song that’s true to its time. Though not enough for a rising band to survive off of (even if it’s just for the weekend), they do well in casting a strong hook for that first listen. Fortunately, they do well in avoiding potential failure; rather than stick to that same formula, Alberta Cross showcase a deeper level of musicianship. Lead singer Petter Ericson Stackee’s distinct voice, a higher-pitched, unique timbre, immediately distinguishes the band’s signature sound. And while the band’s sound may not be considered wholly innovative, Alberta Cross manages to weave together a variety of influences, successfully pulling off a rather broad stylistic range.
“Ramblin’ Home” sets way for a blues heavy power ballad, swaying through a 6/8 signature, fueled by organ churns and rigid chord structures. The appeal exists in its modern rock flare synergized with Zeppelin-esque composition. Making up a quarter of this EP at over six minutes long, this could be considered the standout track. On the other hand, the follow-up, “Wait”, hovers on humming synthesizers, nodding to contemporary shoegazing. Both part elevated and sullen, this track is sure to leave one lost in listening.
By now, this has already proven to be a solid extended play. Track four, “Driving With Myself”, ensues with emotionally charged vocals, backed by an eerie, hollowed-out guitar progression. The chorus sticks and is sure to replay on the brain, no doubt with a sense of volition. Welded by gut-wrenching lyrics and ambient sonics, this is quite possibly the most pleasurable tune.
To wrap things up, Alberta Cross close with the title track, “Rolling Thunder.” Certainly not representative of its title, led by soft piano chords and Jim James like crooning, it’s a melancholy means of ending. And while effective in creating its intended somber aura, it falls short of the sort of closure this set of tracks deserves.
It would be easy to deny Alberta Cross a chance without a thorough listen. With that said, it is that very chance that is necessary in exploring any new music, and too often a band’s top tracks are heard and soon discarded. Abiding by such habits eliminates the opportunity for experiencing better offerings. My suggestion: don’t base your opinion on the flash of a lightening hit. For it’s the rolling thunder that may leave you surprised.
7.5 / 10
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