Experimental rock band The Ongoing Concept are taking music to new and creative places just by simply changing their approach, and literally starting from scratch. Their latest album, Handmade, was released on June 16 and is quickly gaining the attention of music fans and media outlets alike.
The entire album is a DIY project that consists of the band members building their own instruments. They cut down trees to make the wood, soldered electronics to the guitar boards, and attached everything together.
The Ongoing Concept is three brothers and their friend from Idaho - Dawson (guitarist/vocals), Kyle (vocals/keyboard), and Parker Scholz (drums), and TJ Nichols (bass).
One of the cooler aspects in having two vocalists who are brothers is that their voices sound very similar. However, rather then hurting the music, they compliment each other. Each song sounds like a multi layered vocal piece that extends back and forth between highs and lows, and sings and screams. The dynamic gives the album a cohesive sound and allows them to approach vocals in a frantic switch of controlled chaos.
Handmade starts with a subtle opening track, and then opens with "Amends." Right away the feel is different as snapped fingers, stick clicks, and a warm horn section welcome in an almost show tune like opening number. Some of these "oh-ohs" and horn parts transition into the heaviness of the song that becomes apparent immediately when the vocalist begins yelling.
"Feel" opens up with exactly that, feeling. Describing this song is pretty difficult, in that it touches on so much. When approaching, the opening has an early '90s hip-hop/dance pop feel to it that then gets broadened by guitars and yells of the singer. It's almost like a metal Michael Jackson - let that sink in.
"Trophy" hits the album as a more straightforward melodic hardcore song with gang vocals and a more opened up chorus. The rapid pace of the song flows through different types of vocals from multi-layered screams, growls, yells, and a more straightforward punky whine.
The next track, "Prisoner," has more of a southern heavy rock feel, think Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. The chorus is the real standout, and fits the song perfectly. Just listening to the song, you could almost imagine someone rallying up some criminals in the Wild West. "Give it up, give it up, all you liars and thieves/give it up, give it up, you're killing passion with greed/We're all just prisoners.
"Melody" takes that southern sound and drops it further on its head by picking up acoustic guitars and temporarily becoming a folk/grass roots band. The song is a stomp your foot, clap your hands affair complete with some nice harmony over the melody. The soft bridge of the song is a delight to listen to and filled with "Come back, come back to me, don't turn your back on me...Melody melody comeback to me, I need wisdom."
"Unwanted" is the band's first single, which was a wise choice because it packs quite a punch. From the gritty guitars and constant presence of those crazy synth chords, this song is catchy and complicated at the same time. It's hard not to sing along with the chorus when the words are, "I wanna fall in love, I wanna fall in love with you, with you, with you, come on everything I've wanted."
Watch their music video for "Unwanted" below, which also called for the band to make their own set and take turns filming.
Cue the distortion and feedback, it seems The On Going Concept will be kicking into something heavy, but alas, "Soul" throws a curveball just like the rest of this album. The beginning guitars make way for a swingy rock pop hybrid verse before picking up in tone and vocal for the chorus of "I sold my soul to the devil." The southern rock of the previous song then comes back in a major way.
"Survivor" enters with a yell, and some handclaps, which makes the listener instantly perk their ears up at attention. This song sounds like a raucous party of sound. The drums and the bass move synchronously to deliver the steady backbeat of the song.
The final track, "Falling," once again sees the band reinventing themselves a bit. The song opens up simply with piano in an almost pop-like ballad. From there, a soaring bluesy guitar and a church organ come booming in. This song is rock and roll gospel on a Sunday morning. The climax of the song cumulates with a beautiful soundscape of a choir of voices over a guitar solo and alternating screams and singing into the quiet calm of snaps and a piano.
What can really said about this band that isn't spoken for in their music? The guys were crafty enough to make their own instruments so why expect anything less than quality from their music. The Ongoing Concept is the perfect name for the band as they continue and grow with their sound after every release. Handmade takes this title quite literally and shows the efforts of a band putting their hands to the plough. If Christian hard rock music is looking for a new unique savior, these guys can do it with their bare hands, again, literally.