Solar Halos- Solar Halos

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Stoner rock/heavy psych band Solar Halos has been around since mid-2012 or so and are releasing their debut self-titled album later this month. The North Carolina trio features members that have been a part of acts like Horseback and Caltrop, and bring these experiences with them to create sprawling stoner and psychedelic riffs that has the perfect balance of super spacey melodies and crunchier grooves. Although there are a few moments that are a bit too similar in their overall delivery, Solar Halos is able to deliver some truly entrancing melodic grooves and look to have a promising future ahead of them.

As one might expect, the instrumentalists stretch things out a bit and each of the six tracks runs for somewhere between five and eight minutes. Solar Halos often follows a similar pattern, starting off with softer melodies that build at a mid-tempo pace until they have established entrancing grooves that draw listeners in. There are differences between the songs as far as tonality and the way these riffs intertwine, as a particular moment might explore the melodic psych direction a bit closer while another might change the guitar tone over to a heavier sound with a bit more of a jagged edge. It’s clear that this trio has a good deal of chemistry, as the songs all flow naturally and it feels like all three instruments are building up these soundscapes together rather than letting one individual element dominate. When Solar Halos reaches a peak level they’re truly captivating and hook you with waves of melody that ebb and flow out of your speakers. But it took a couple of tracks for the instrumentals to really grab me in this way, and this left me feeling as though the band still had some more room to grow.

The vocal work is one of the elements of this release that I like the most. Nora Rogers gets much of the spotlight throughout the album, and she has the type of range that’s perfectly suited for this type of material. Rogers often follows a similar pattern as the instrumentals, starting off with a softer pitch and building it up until she’s one of the loudest elements of Solar Halos’ music and has your full and undivided attention. Throughout many of the arrangements there are backing vocals from one of the other members (or maybe they both switch off, it’s not quite clear) which adds some gruffer pitches to the overall mix. Although Nora Rogers does steal the spotlight on a regular basis, I really liked it when the vocalists switched off from one line to the next as they complemented each other nicely and helped to give the performance more depth than is typical for this genre.

Solar Halos is a band with plenty of potential, and I’m sure this debut will help them to get their name out there and impress quite a few listeners. But I still felt that a few moments were just a bit too similar in structure, and believe that as the trio continues to develop and challenges each other to take these ideas that they will reach an entirely new level. It will be exciting to watch them progress though, and in the meantime this release is one that will warrant some additional listens as the year continues.

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