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Straight Groove Rocking with Aqueous - Artifact

Can I admit something to you all?
It's totally not a complete secret, but I am willing to let it all out anyway.
They say the road to recovery starts with admitting you have a problem, and I have a problem.

I didn't want to like jam bands.


But I do. I really, really DO.
Not all of them. I mean, the potential is there but I like to say I am only just dipping my toes in the waters of this scene. (despite more than a few fully naked cannonballs) I am continuously surprised by just how much music is here. I am continuously impressed with how many bands are out there doing their own corner of the scene their own way and I am constantly evolving my own audible portfolio of what I love.

My husband and I follow Twiddle quite a bit and last month found us in Stroudsburg, PA where, coincidentally, this whole A Perfect Mess concept started in a little Internet broadcasting company called PIBCO. I used to drive the hour from my home in New Jersey once a week to spend two hours blasting the interwebs with all the music I loved. It showed me I had a voice, and things went on from there. Towards the end of time tenure, our station lost it's roof in a snow and ice incident and the folks at the Sherman Theater were nice enough to allow us to broadcast from their offices, and later in a private spot over the theater itself. I loved my drives there to spread my music all over the world. I had not been back since.

My husband and I booked ourselves a room down the street, walked on up to Main Street for dinner, got our drink on, and headed down to the Sherman for some ear tickling of the best kind. The supporting band that night was Aqueous. It was my first real taste of these gents and their brand of "groove rock" jam fun. I didn't really give them the attention they deserved that night, as I was giddy from beer and friends and a rare night out with my husband - we are parents working swing shifts busting our bums in our respective careers. I did a bit of getting down, but not enough. Listing to them through my headphones now, I should have been listening a bit more. What I can say from what I watched was a close-knit group who smiled more during that set than I have seen a band do in a while. That says a lot.

Realizing that I was seeing the name AQUEOUS pretty much everywhere lately and not being terribly familiar with them, I started to wonder. I do mean everywhere - I think every festival posted I lay eyes on it has their name on it somewhere. So I began doing some listening. I started doing some reading. I did some tracking of festivals and tours. They have probably the most well written website descriptions I have yet to come across in all my years of doing this. You guys make me want to hang out with you. After doing some listening to their previous released, I pulled up their most recent studio piece, a live studio effort called Artifact. The album opens with a song called Origami that really kind of took me back a bit. These guys have a strong groove but they have this young, fresh vocal harmony flavor that glazes across the top with a real fresh sound.

I was struck immediately on this record with the bass. The bass is really prominent, lending to a strong continuously moving groove. The lines are smart and clean. The drum sound is steady and persistent without too much flare. It's still strong as hell though and helps create this real fun, active, and very rocking feel. The keys are very cool, very steady, and perfectly flavored start to finish without overdoing it. They do a great groove thing with the vocals about halfway through Numbers and Facts that I really dig. Nothing feels overdone. Everything is in balance.

I have to give major props to the guitar on this record too. I was so sure before my jump down the jam scene rabbit hole that all jam band guitars sounded the same. A lot of WAA WAAA WAAAAA sounds layered over overuse of cymbals and slow bass. This guitar is almost restless in it's tempo but it's controlled and rolling. Its a LOT of fun and a whole lot of WOW. I can appreciate a sound that jams but keeps that temp moving. I don't want my body to stop moving just because the song is long. I like that Aqueous seems to get that. There is just enough effect on the guitar so as to flavor but not overtake the sound. A delicate balance that I can appreciate.

The vocals are really fun. It's like taking Matthew Sweet and Ben Folds and throwing them all in a cocktail shaker with a tiny dash of Ben Gibbard. Shake shake shake, pour over ice and enjoy. I like it a lot. It's fresh and soulful while still feeling strong. I was struck listening to Origami by how well the vocals compliment the groove. On a funny side note, I had a moment of foggy recollection about the night at the Sherman when my husband and I stopped to watch Aqueous and get a little dance on...and it was to this very song! I remember looking at him and going, "Ok...I like this". And I do. I really dig the sound.

Essential Listening:

Origami - Fun, groove. shake your body as you go about your day music. I really like this track. Easily my favorite I have heard by the band as a whole so far.

Paranoid Android - A little broody, a little soulful, but I love the way the vocals change.

Pop on over to their website and give these guys a listen. You can find them out and about it seems pretty much EVERYWHERE. I don't know that I have seen a band's name nearly as much as I have seen Aqueous. If I can say anything, I can say they are out there working it. Summer Camp, DiscJam, Tumble Down, Peach Fest, Central Park Summer Stage, Stone Pony Summer Stage, The Big What, I mean...they are EVERYWHERE so do yourself a favor and get out there and take in some Aqueous. You can find their tour info HERE. I am sure I will see you out there!


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