The Haunted Continents- The Loudest Year Ever

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Haunted Continents is a band that has a fairly simple formula but has made it work to their advantage. Rather than attempting to only channel 90’s indie rock and power pop like just about every other band in the genre, the group has attempted to combine it with 50’s bop and soul on their debut album The Loudest Year Ever. It’s a mixture that works quite well, and while the upbeat moments are much stronger than the slower ones this is a release that showcases a good deal of potential and is fun to listen to.

I must admit that there were a number of times on The Loudest Year Ever where I was really impressed that this group is made up of just two guys, as the amount of sound that they are able to get on some of these songs is immense. What they have managed to do is take the reverb heavy melodies of 90’s alternative rock and lay down catchy 50’s grooves over top of them to create mesmerizing arrangements. This formula is used for the majority of The Haunted Continents’ material, and they vary things up by either upping the tempo and volume or stripping things down and using just one guitar with vocals. What I noticed after listening to this album a bunch of times was that the upbeat tracks were the ones with the best hooks, as when the group decided to unplug and go towards a more acoustic sound they lost a little too much momentum. It doesn’t hurt all that much, but it is something that could be improved in the future as the band continues to grow.

Many of the press blurbs about The Haunted Continents mentions that vocalist James Downes is a major part of why the group has impressed, and this is definitely evident as soon as you turn the album on. He has a voice that is able to hit some fairly high ranges and then go back to some mid-range ones without becoming shaky or unfocused. Downes sounds extremely confident throughout The Loudest Year Ever and his voice is well suited to the mid-tempo grooves that the group makes use of for the majority of the album. Admittedly it does seem as though he gets a little too soft on the slower songs, which along with the instrumental arrangements is one of the main reasons that I felt that the acoustic oriented tracks didn’t make as much of an impact. But when he is moving between highs and lows his voice is absolutely fantastic, and he is sure to draw people in.

The Loudest Year Ever is a fun album that has its moments, but I can’t help feeling that after a bit more growth The Haunted Continents will be at a whole other level. Right now their up-tempo moments that recalls both 50’s soul and 90’s indie are incredible but the slower moments don’t always leave the same impact, and if they can find a way to consistently wow listeners they will be much stronger because of it. But don’t let that stop you from checking this duo out, because they’re on the right track and can only get better from here on.

Full Disclosure: Review copy provided by Beartrap PR

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