a’tris | Lensing (Mark)

cd_atris.jpgLensing is at the same time contemporary and classic.







Words like niche and genre get thrown around a lot when talking about rock ‘n’ roll. Some bands are never able to establish their own personal style; others get labeled as imitators early and are never able to shake that stigma. After listening to their third album, Lensing, I believe a’tris should not have that problem.

The Boston-based band has successfully combined rock, pop, jazz and the occasional touches of industrial or electronica (or sometimes both) to create a sound that may remind you of a few other groups but is, on the whole, entirely their own.

Lensing is at the same time contemporary and classic. Singer and pianist Mason Taylor is front and center throughout the album, weaving lyrics through the music to create something both listenable and exciting. Fortunately, a’tris has not abandoned the guitar, bass and drum formula; this allows the band to keep away the pretentiousness that some groups with a frontman/pianist can’t escape.

The album kicks off with "Paradise in a Boxcar," an unapologetic rock-pop gem. It’s really hard to not like this song if you’re a fan of rock ‘n’ roll: Crunchy guitars, a thick bottom end of bass and drums, present but not overpowering piano and lyrics that feel like reality. "Paradise…" is a great album or show starter.

"Automatic Doors," the third track, thumps out raw but relaxed. I really like the contrast between the smooth vocal harmonies and the pounding kick drum; a standout song to be sure. You can even hear some hard-rock influence. Guitarist Ben Azar may or may not be a fan of Metallica or Van Halen, but he certainly appreciates their skills. The band posted a music video for this song on their MySpace page; if that means it’s the first single from this album then they picked the right one.

"Tilting at the Ministry" is a hard song to peg. While it sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of some slow-moving ’80s romance movie, the guitars at the bridge nudge the song back into the 21st century. So, despite the throwback nature of the song, it still comes across as fresh. I can confidently say that not much else today sounds like this. And I can’t help but love it.

The rest of the album is strong; while the songs have a lot of the same attributes they do not at all sound like the same song rehashed over and over. I think a’tris really has nailed it on Lensing. All of the shows listed on their websites (http://www.atrishq.com/ and www.myspace.com/atris) list dates in the Northeast, but maybe this album will afford them enough success to come south and east of Pennsylvania someday. A- | Christopher Reed

RIYL: Coldplay, Muse, Death Cab for Cutie

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