Rest Ashore displays progression, experimentation on new album
New Brunswick-raised, Hoboken-based math rock quartet Rest Ashore is back with new music, and while the LP’s title suggests a chaotic sound, its second studio album "Pornoviolence" is still music to the ears.
Staying true to the math rock genre, "Pornoviolence" is a unique composition of unexpected odd-meter and multiple key changes, which makes listening to Rest Ashore’s newest project front to back several times necessary in order to truly understand it and appreciate it.
Self-described as “emo” rock, both the lyrical and musical content of the album is relatable, and the swift sound changes within each song catch the listener off-guard in all the right ways.
Experimenting with sound, style and genre is exactly why math rock has always been appealing to the band, and main vocalist and Pace University senior Erica Butts said the four members constantly push each other to try different things.
“I enjoy the fact that we feel comfortable to push ourselves and each other as musicians,” Butts said.
As a band that spends countless hours in the studio, Rest Ashore makes sure to create an atmosphere where there’s always room for experimentation and improvement.
“Rest Ashore is a big communal effort towards musical betterment. It’s a great atmosphere for that,” she said.
"Pornoviolence"’s lyrics never fail to be emotionally-charged with a story behind the melodies.
With dynamic and interchangeable rhythms, it becomes evident to the listener that the band was influenced by jazz, despite the genre’s punk-rock roots.
“We’re influenced mostly by punk, but we were raised to appreciate all types of music,” Butts said, referring back to the time she and other bandmates spent in music school. Based on this background, it was only natural that Rest Ashore would piece together its source of inspiration.
“From pop and hip hop to classical and jazz, I find movements to incorporate into all of our songs,” she said.
Almost every song on "Pornoviolence" is introduced with a guitar prelude that provides a smooth yet awakening transition from one song to the next, illustrating just how the band’s music is so unexpected and different from typical rock music. Track five, “Drunken Fist,” opens with a quick, catchy guitar solo that switches time signatures throughout the song, adding an ambiguous element to the lyrics. While the lyrics may seemingly mean one thing, the words and the vibe of the song changes, leaving the listener on the edge of their seat.
The following track, “Life in the Time of Tear Gas,” is strictly instrumental, something the band did not experiment with on its first album, "The Human Error." Not only is its lack of lyrics unexpected, the song also showcases each band member’s talent in a more concentrated fashion. According to Butts, recording songs that were solely instrumental was a way for her and her bandmates to establish themselves as real musicians capable of creating diverse and complex music. As several instrumental tracks appear on the album, it’s clear that the band is dedicated to its musicianship.
“I wanted a chance to focus on writing a song that revolved completely around guitar melodies and rhythms,” Butts said. “Many of my musical inspirations perform without saying a single word, and I think that artists who can establish and express themselves without the help of lyrics can be very powerful with their rhythms and chords.”
A repetitive yet captivating technique on "Pornoviolence" particularly stands out on the track “Hijarta,” a song that features lyrics and instruments that intertwine and alternate. The song’s complex rhythms provide an entryway for Butts' powerful lyrics and voice, and although the band experimented with instrumentals on its sophomore album, Butts said they are still passionate about telling stories with their music and penning poetic lyrics that will inspire their listeners.
“As much as I enjoy being a singer-songwriter, I don’t want to put myself in a box, and in the end, everything I write with Rest Ashore is for the enjoyment I get out of the performance,” Butts said.
Proud of the significant contrast between the style and sound of "Pornoviolence" and "The Human Error," Butts said Rest Ashore is a band that is constantly evolving and progressing, which makes them a quintessential math rock group.
“With math rock, there is always room to grow in all directions,” she said.