It's going to be a beautiful Apocalypse. That is, if San Diego trio Via Satellite's new album, Cities Are Temples, is the soundtrack. A stunning ode to love in the end times, opener "Seven Winged Lions" begins with a bell-clear laptop melody that unfolds into dreamy percussion, snippets of squelch, and gentle harmonies, before quietly crumbling into static. It's thoughtful, ethereal music, but not gloomy in the least. At times, Via Satellite even reveals itself as a slow-burning rock band, with muffled, distorted electric guitar buzzing behind warm piano compositions, or crisp acoustic guitar strumming through muted layers of electronic chords and samples. Drew Andrews' and Scott Mercado's vocals breathe sensuality into most of the songs, although they can just as easily evoke the haunted detachment of Thom Yorke. And while comparisons to Radiohead as well as the Album Leaf (with whom Andrews and drummer Tim Reese also perform) might be fair, Via Satellite carves its own niche by avoiding the off-kilter melodies of the former and the encompassing electronica of the latter.
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