OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — It’s hard to know where to start with a band like Local Man Ruins Everything.
Arguably OKC’s reigning kings of weirdo instrumental progressive math-rock (but then again, who else is even competing for that title,) LMRE is a three-piece of such technical proficiency and neck-breaking musical left turns that it’s difficult to describe their sound without falling into the trap of simply spouting off niche categorizations and comparisons to other bands.
Music and Film
with Brett Fieldcamp
After what guitarist Jay Gleason refers to as “a hilariously long process and a couple of hiccups,” the trio finally unleashed the final, official version of their 35-minute self-titled release upon the public this month. An earlier, possibly unfinished version was available for a couple months in the Fall of last year before quietly disappearing from streaming services in anticipation of this, the real Local Man Ruins Everything record.
And it doesn’t take long to hear how that extra work has paid off.
Opener “Ninja” jumps right out of the gate with a bass-led, herky-jerky riff in 7/4 that pretty well announces what you’re in for and what the band is all about. The song slides into atmospherics, then wall-of-sound guitars, then jazzy interludes, all without ever feeling stitched together or forced, and all while navigating an advanced math problem of time signatures and rhythms.
Contrary to so many other modern acts that run with the “prog” label in this day and age, LMRE is taking their cues much more from the cerebral prog-metal heyday of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Easy parallels abound to the sounds of Dream Theater or the heady guitar gymnastics of Steve Vai, but there is a great deal more jazz, and specifically the hard-driven jazz fusion of John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orchestra.
But there I go just comparing them to other bands again.
Anyone that knows me and my musical taste knows that I’m a sucker for that real, classic prog. One of my favorite pastimes since high school is to sit and count along with the rhythmic experimentation and time changes in the best albums by Yes, Rush, and early Genesis. But the truth is that I find much of the modern prog world lacking. Too much concern for finger-tapping and virtuoso technique exhibition and not nearly enough focus on texture, genuine experimentation, and above all else, interplay.
Local Man Ruins Everything hit each of those elements square on the head.
Gleason’s guitar work is gloriously noodly and over-the-top, but it’s always textural, tasteful, surprisingly melodic, and his solos don’t overstay their welcome. Drummer Byron Collins brings a funky, soulful structure to each and every track built on the kind of mind-blowing gospel chops that normally win drum competitions.
And then there’s Eric Harris on six-string bass, simultaneously holding down the rhythm, the low end, and at least half of the unexpectedly hummable melodies, all while manning an effects-pedal rig that would leave most lead guitarists confused.
Each of the three is a shockingly talented and impressive musician on their own, but it’s the interplay among them that makes LMRE such a fantastic and fun band.
“Fun” is the key takeaway here. This music is dense, almost insanely complex, and highly technical, but it’s always fun to listen to, and a big part of that is because you can tell straight away that these guys are having fun playing, and more importantly, having fun playing together.
Local Man Ruins Everything’s self-titled album is available now on all Apple Music and Spotify. Follow them for updates and concert announcements on Instagram @localman_ruinseverything and facebook.com/localmanruinseverything777
And … This!
Rodeo Cinema in the Stockyards is still screening “The Tragedy of Macbeth” through this week.
For the first time ever, Joel Coen leaves his brother behind in what would appear to be a quest to deliver a truly definitive film version of the Shakespearian classic. Denzel Washington stars alongside Oscar-winning Coen Brothers mainstay (and Joel’s wife) Frances McDormand, both of whom promise to turn in some of the best performances of the year.
Filmed in a staggeringly beautiful black-and-white, with an old-school aspect ratio and set design straight out of Laurence Olivier’s Shakespearian works, this one is almost guaranteed to pick up a mountain of Oscar nominations.
For show times and tickets, visit rodeocinema.org.
Last Updated January 18, 2022, 10:02 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor