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CD Review: Oh Contraire by Race To Neptune

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Oh Contraire by Race To NeptuneOh Contraire by Race To Neptune

Fort Collins, CO based alt-rock outfit Race To Neptune first came together in 2012 after members Brian Maier, Vanessa Freese, Ken Cavanaugh, and Zach Berger met through mutual friends and decided to form a band. Ever since, Race To Neptune has been attracting attention for its loud, unapologetic, rock style which, let’s face it, in the age of digitized everything, is something of a lost art. After a few years of making their presence known on the local scene, Race To Neptune completed its first full length release. Their impressive nine track debut LP, Oh Contraire, is available now.

Race To Neptune pulls its unique sound from a variety of influences and right out of the gate, the opening track, “Wanderlily,” exemplifies what this band is all about. With a sound reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins, “Wanderlily” exists in that magical zone where the driving drum work perfectly supports the softer guitar sounds to create indie rock zen. The bass heavy “Cigars and Celebrations” sounds like what would result from The Killers jamming with Metallica complete with peaks and valleys in tempo and energy. One of my personal favorites, “Threes and Fours,” greets listeners with emotive guitar and thoughtful lyrics such as “I can’t help but notice/That they go unnoticed, to me.”

“Bulletful of Piss” contradicts its title by being one of the better songs on the LP. Continuing with the mid-tempo feel of the previous track, the vocal delivery gives “Bulletful of Piss” an ethereal feel, but it’s not long before the drums and guitars are unleashed. Race To Neptune knows its way around instruments and the use of them to bring a song such as “Bulletful of Piss” from ambient to explosive is amazing. “Iron Satire” is a ballad that uses its lyrics to paint a vivid picture against opportunistic, 60s psych distortion until the drums and guitars really wake up around the halfway mark. The exceptional guitar and drum work continue on the high energy, rock song “Constant Collapse” which transports you back to the grunge era at certain points with what seems like a nod to Nirvana.   

“Blue Skies So Burned” brings it down a notch with a more mellow vibe before Race To Neptune surprises everyone with “Bayou Brew.” A departure from previous tracks, “Bayou Brew” is a standout. A country rock track that is completely out of place on this LP, it also offers some of the best instrumental work on this release. I happen to love that Race To Neptune doesn’t care that it is in left field as far as song progression goes. With “Bayou Brew” the band seems to be sending a message to the status quo and I wholeheartedly approve. Oh Contraire wraps things up with “Waterspout.” Brought in by the bass and followed by drums and guitars that continue to soar, “Waterspout” is the near perfect end to a near perfect debut release.

Always an indie rock band but never confined to the limitations of staying definitively within one genre, Race to Neptune musically goes wherever it wants and shines brightly when it arrives. With an array of influences, Race to Neptune creates its own unique sound that simultaneously possesses an undertone of familiarity that is a salute to some of their legendary influences. In an industry taken over by processed artists, artificial sound and corporate created music, Race To Neptune offers a return to rock authenticity that will be welcomed by anyone who appreciates melodic vocals, poetic lyricism and seriously top tier drumming and guitar work.     

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