It all starts with the butterflies, those giddy whirlwinds in the stomach -- the antithesis of nausea combined with dopey smiles and too many hours spent styling your hair. Then the elation that comes with the chemical pheromone combustion of two people falling for one another. The complexities really begin at that point: the melding of personalities, the declarations of adoration, and with these, the jealousy, the self-consciousness, the suspicions. And unfortunately in most cases, the next phases are unspeakable: the pain of separation, the emotional masochism, the overwhelming loneliness, and the guilt.
Athens, Georgia's Now It's Overhead, the brain child of Andy LeMaster (a Bright Eyes studio and touring cohort), chronicles this universal journey through love and loss on its debut self-titled album. The record takes you step by step through the motions of infatuation, lust, fulfillment, loss and resignation.
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Now, subject matter such as this is no revelation for the sensitive-boy-rock set; matter of fact, it's the standard for such efforts. But LeMaster, supported by members of Azure Ray, surpasses the flood of these bleeding hearts through sheer mastery of instrumentation and by virtue of his aural diversity. Some tracks -- "Who's Jon," "Hi" and "With a Subtle Look" -- are instantly identifiable as an Athens-born effort: the country inflections, the Georgia drawl, the Stipe-ish verbal quirks. But then the band throws a track like "6th Grade Roller" at you, a sinister, murky-bassed, vocoder-enhanced paean to the romantic environs of the roller rink. Things deteriorate emotionally from there, and the record ends on its most depressing but creatively highest note, a track titled "A Skeleton on Display." It approaches the demise of love with a startling maturity and resignation, with whispers of "I will always miss you, I will always miss you" floating behind a recitation of cherished memories.
LeMaster is a young developing artist who's quickly earned his pedigree amongst the ranks of the new school of intellectually intuitive indie rock (along with labelmates Bright Eyes, and Cursive, and bands like The Gloria Record, and Death Cab for Cutie). This is not the punk-pop-emo-derived drivel that's the standard for writing panty-dropper songs that make the young ladies swoon; this is the real deal: ingenuity, integrity and passion all in one beautiful compact disc.