Locals Backup Planet release an album that merits more than local attention
OK, kids, listen up—this is important. After long, grueling months of commuting between here and Knoxville, experimenting with radical recoding techniques (like playing guitar in the bathroom) and being stranded (and making national news for it) in the lobby of an Alabamian Best Western, Backup Planet has finished their latest album. If you want to get in on the ground floor to hear it, you’ll need to head up to the release party at Mercy Lounge in Nashville on Friday, March 21. If you want to know why you should do that, read on.
Backup Planet was featured here in The Pulse last November so we’ll dispense with repeating a lot of the whos and whats and just deal directly with the album, Element. Ordinarily, when I get an album from a band, I give it one solid listen through, then a second where I take notes and a third where I flesh out the details. My experience with Element is a little different. I heard the first few rough tracks six months ago, the complete, albeit unmixed, album last month; then the finished product came across my desk late last night.
Being able to hear the album throughout its production has given me a deeper appreciation for the band’s creative process. I know where they started, I know where they finished, and I know how they got from there to here. As a result I can tell you that this collection of tunes is an intense labor of love, carefully and painstakingly crafted, a bit of raw genius distilled into a flawless album.
“The Road” is a stand-out song, a good representation of the band overall in that it covers a lot of ground musically, embracing multiple genres and blending them seamlessly into a track that is more soundscape than ditty. The piano interlude is gorgeous, and here is a shining example of what makes the boys so good. You wouldn’t expect the piano part in this song—and yet once you hear it, the song could never be right without it. It is a counterpoint to the rest of the material that sets the lot of it on fire. I strongly suspect that at least one of the guys in the band has some experience in classical composition.
A few of tunes I got to hear last fall did not make it onto the final cut. Thankfully, “Live Inside” is one that did. I originally described it as “the closest thing the band has to a pop tune, but not pop” and I stand by that. It could easily garner some good radio play, but hearing the final version now, I think it is indicative of something deeper.
I’m not about to say that band sounds like Frank Zappa, but they remind me of Frank and here’s why: There is whimsy in much of what they do, a playful element that makes you feel like these guys must be grinning the entire time they play, but this playfulness is built on a solid foundation of absolute and uncompromising precision. If that ain’t Zappa…well, it is, so there’s no point in finishing that statement.
“Jaded” is another favorite, too heavy for pop, too commercially viable for heavy metal. Call it a hard rock tune that reminds me of the very best of the grunge era. If they still advertised new releases on television, this would be the track they played while the announcer told you how badly you needed to buy it. That being said, you need to buy it.
Nashville is a just a short jaunt up the road, and this band and their new release are absolutely worth the time and effort to go see. This is no mere “lightning in a bottle.” This album was carefully sculpted from marble with untold manhours of labor going into its production—and the result is a disc that, by rights, ought to make these boys famous.
Get up to the Mercy Lounge on Friday if you can. If not, I’m sure the album will be available through all the usual online channels (check BP’s Facebook page for details) and remember I said it here first: Backup Planet’s new album, Element, is the kind of album that takes a regional favorite and sets them firmly on the national stage.