November 07, 2003

Parade "Life In Ten Songs or Less"

I don't understand why, but sometimes bands just don't get the notice or the attention that they deserve. A great band can be killed by lack of interest or attention. Though some people take comfort in the fact that 'good things will eventually be noticed,' unfortunately that's not always true, and that's such a shame. It's a bittersweet prize to be recognized and respected ten years after hanging up and walking away from what was really promising. Consider, then, Austin, Texas' newest pop band, Parade. Such a fate is one that I fear for them, and as a music lover and fan, I'm trusting you, dear readers, to not allow this to happen to them.

I've fallen for Parade in a big, big way. Though the primary band consists of Ty Hurless and Kevin Sekhani, Parade is actually a wonderfully big pop orchestra, with loud, swinging brass and a trio of excellent backup singers. Throw in a relative to the Bee Gees as producer and a general upbeat attitude that's noticable from the very first notes of the mellow and slightly psych "Wake Up." When it changes into the wonderfully poppy in spite of the title "Burial Ground," Parade's sound folds over and over in bright kaleidoscopic colors. To top it off, Sekhani has a really strong, intoxicating singing voice that's immediately likeable, and with all of these things working together, Parade's a band that makes quick converts from listen number one. I know that I was hooked from the get-go.

What really, really impresses me about Parade is just how natural it all sounds. While several bands out there today (no names, please, you know who you are) play around with the whole orchestra pop sound, to some extent these groups' use of big orchestration sounds more of a novel experiment. Not so with Parade; theirs is perhaps the first debut record that I've heard that incorporates this big band sound and doesn't sound gimmicky. No, one listen to songs like "Turn me Down" and "Delicate" and "Burial Ground," Parade's sound is tight, as if they have been making this kind of music for years, and that's what really wins me over. Their sound is fresh and new and it's all theirs and it never leads you to notice the fact that, yes, this is a debut album.

Though the sound of Life In Ten Songs or Less is pure big, well-produced baroque pop, it never falls victim to the trappings of retro music, and instead of sounding like 1968 all over again, these guys find it better to be in 2003. I've got a big long list of bands who they remind me of, but I'm not going to give that to you, because I really want you to hear Parade for what they are--a great pop band. Comparisons to other bands would be absurd, pointless and would not serve them well; they are their own band; their sound is all their own, yet it's warm and friendly and familiar and it's one that's served without a hint of hipster irony. (Finally, a pop album without irony!)

Let's not allow Parade to slip through the cracks, shall we? Their sound is too good, too wonderful and too friendly to allow to rot in obscurity. Life In Ten Songs or Less is one impressive debut album, and I totally hope that 2004 allows them great opportunities. They deserve it. They don't deserve to have to be caught having to self-release their music; they deserve to be on the radio, they deserve every great musical wish and fantasy of every lesser talented artist out there. Hopefully, they will get them soon.

(I really, really want you to hear Parade. Go visit their website, and experience one of the best bands you've never heard of--yet.)

--Joseph Kyle

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