Tioga “Lodestar” LP review

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Tioga / Lodestar / July 2018
https://tiogatheband.bandcamp.com/album/lodestar
RIYL: The Smiths, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen

Tioga’s Lodestar conjures up feelings of the 1980s and forces the comparison to artists of that era: Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, The Cure, even Manfredd Mann or Springsteen. While none of these comparisons truly captures Tioga’s sound on Lodestar, there is something undeniably nostalgic about the record. Yet, through reverb-laden guitars and vocals, synth textures, and unequivocally ’80s drum tones, the band manages to establish something modern and unique. Solemn verses and vibrato galore contrast more straightforward pop choruses on many of Lodestar’s standout songs.

“Catch Me If I Fall,” “When They Find You Out,” and “Young Man Now” could easily wind up on pop radio rotations in the near future, as their hooks, choruses and refrains lure you in and command attention. While Young Man Now was released as the single, and is a thoroughly catchy, upbeat performance, the lyrical refrain (“I’m a young man now”) feels somewhat forced by song’s end. “Catch Me If I Fall,” however, naturally flows into an anthemic chorus through the slow, momentous build of the verse. “Flesh From Bone”’s opening vocal melody prompted thoughts and feelings of ’80s hits (the best I could come up with is the opening line to “Blinded by the Light” by Bruce Springsteen/Manfred Mann, hence the aforementioned comparison), but strays from this during the chorus, as a syncopated bass line adds to the dance-feel and complexity.  The album goes on to close in dramatic fashion, with a memorable vocal performance on “Marcus.” The thoroughly dramatic song crescendos for its full duration and peaks with an impactful chant, powerfully culminating the 11 songs with composure.

Tioga found their stride on their first full-length, and established a danceable sound that lies somewhere between 80’s goth-pop and modern indie/synth-pop. Between Greg Adam’s moody baritone vocals, Austin Paragas’ thoughtful bass lines and winding synth riffs, Derrick Dieso’s controlled, melodic guitar playing, and Henri Tyler’s dynamic drumming (not afraid to keep things simple, or stress a melodic motif), the group’s talent peeks through. Keep an eye out for Tioga to do some big things in the near future.

–Dan Forrest

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