2nd February 2015 – Self-released
03. The Hoax
04. Epoch of Revolution
05. Witch Hunt
06. Hail the Machine
07. Sea of Lies
08. Dying Suns
10. I, the Watcher of Earth
11. Prelude to an End
12. Clock of Immortality
Google “good Icelandic music” – 10,200 results
Google “bad Icelandic music” – 72 results
Google “good Norwegian music” – 17.000 results
Google “bad Norwegian music” – 7 results
Google “good Danish music” – 388 results
Google “bad Danish music” – 640 results”
This little gem popped up on my newsfeed recently. While it was posted for comedic value, it’s no secret that Denmark hasn’t had quite as much success in the realm of music as their Nordic brethren. The good news is that the Google results for good Danish music should go up now that Stream City have released their debut full length album Hoax.
Describing their music is no simple task, but if a genre description was in order then Stream City would probably fall under the scarcely populated banner of “progressive folk punk”. If that sounds even vaguely interesting, definitely give the album a chance; progression isn’t something often associated with punk in this day and age, and one wouldn’t be amiss to find issues with either association, but I stand by it: its punky influence comes its lyrical content and kinship with ska bands like RX Bandits and the folk punk (with an emphasis on folk) of Larry and His Flask, rather than The Sex Pistols and The Ramones. From there it’s been thrown in a blender with progressive rock/metal, and as such could appeal to either a wide variety of fans or a very specific group of fans. Luckily, if it’s a small group I’m definitely part of it.
From opener “Dystopia” to closer “Clock of Immortality”, Hoax goes through a number of stylistic changes that, rather than giving the album a disjointed feel, manage to lend a definitive personality to each track. There’s no risk of one track getting mistaken for another; each one has a distinctive feel, and this is brought cohesion by excellent songwriting, skillful performances and some addictive catchy hooks. This addictiveness is no joke by the way; by my second night with the album the play count had reached double digits, with no sign of stopping.
In addition to the standard rock band line-up, Stream City have amongst their number Christian Hjort Lauritzen, a violinist and keyboard player who adds massively to the classical, folky and progressive nature of the album. The violin especially proves to be more than a mere gimmick, taking the role usually reserved for lead guitars with strong melodies that prove violinists are the original shredders (check out the epic arpeggios in “Witch Hunt”).
That’s not to say the other instrumentalists don’t deserve special mention; Guitarists Dion and Brian bring riff after riff of memorable music from a variety of styles, shifting effortlessly between them throughout the songs. They are clearly capable of some flashy lead playing – for example in the opening of “I, The Watcher of Earth” – but they usually let the violin retain the role, occasionally sharing the spotlight for some beautiful teamwork. Bassist Mattias is always audible but gets to step into the spotlight a few times and really shines in all his groovy glory (see “Witch Hunt” again) and the drums…oh those drums. It’s a shame how seldom drummers in genre-melding bands get the praise they deserve, so I’m going to go right ahead and say Mikkel could probably audition to play in a band of pretty much any genre and nail it. From folky grooves and punky beats to proggy fills and blasting this dude just beats the skins like they owe him money.
But Hoax is not just an instrumental affair, and if it was it would have lost quite a bit of charm. The vocals and lyrics of vocalist/guitarist Dion work together to bring some of the punk elements to the forefront while still retaining the high quality of the music. The lyrics mostly deal with deception and lies (not surprising when you consider the title) and the vocals deliver them in catchy melodies that follow the music without Dion attempting to assume a different character for each style. The Danish accent is quite noticeable at times which could go either way depending on your views on the matter; I feel it adds character and flavour, even though I’m usually not a huge fan of Denmark’s native tongue.
This album is truly something else. The catchiness of the vocal melodies and the ever-changing but always on-point instrumentation work together to create an album that oozes charm, talent and, most of all, fun. All of this is possible due to a pretty much perfect mixing job so it may come as a surprise that this album is 100% self-produced by Stream City.
It should be clear at this point that whether this progressive/folk/ska/punk/metal blend appeals to you or not the album as a whole is an accomplishment in itself. If it sounds like it could appeal to you, give Hoax a chance as that’s all it needs to plant itself firmly in your brain, your heart and your playlist for months to come.