I grew up in the era of album covers. It was a tangible physical product and I took great joy in organizing and displaying my trophies. The album cover sometimes was better than the album itself and believe it or not, a good album cover could actually boost sales. Now, in the digital age, not as much care goes into the digital packaging of a release. I did not realize how much I missed album covers until I heard and saw the newest release from a Canada based indie band called Autopilot. The music itself is pretty good but the album cover is fantastic. It’s simple direct and, I believe, reflects the spirit of the band’s journey over the past few years. The album is called “Desert Dreams” and the album cover depicts a tour bus on a lonely road under a sunny desert morning sky heading straight for us. It says a lot without saying much.
Autopilot is what is known as a power trio from the hinterlands of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada. Saskatchewan is a prairie province in central Canada slightly smaller than Alaska with a total population roughly the same as San Jose California. I mention this because in order to find success in music from Saskatchewan, three words come to mind. Tour, baby, tour. Autopilot released its first EP in 2005 and followed that with a full release in 2007 and their follow up didn’t hit retailers until 2013. They are back now with “Desert Dreams” and they plan to tour extensively to support the record. The band is made up of Marlon Harder, Colton Fehr and Jose A. Fuenzalida. The band has found some success outside their home turf over the years with their last release charting in both Canada and on US college charts. “Desert Dreams” debuted in Canada in the top 50 which shows a lot of promise.
The music on “Desert Dreams” is straight ahead indie alternative rock with some nice touches along the way. Marlon Harder’s vocals are distinctive and solid but maybe a touch too compressed for my taste. The guitar work compliments the vocals remarkably well and there are some experimental riffs and sounds which gives the record another interesting dimension. I hear a number of influences listening to this record, most notably a scent of some of the great art rockers in music like Genesis, or Squeeze but with a purely North American flavor. It’s a solid release from a band of Canadian journeymen musician and we wish them much success with the record. And, oh, did I mention that the album cover art is very cool.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.