Southern California’s Random Parade Releases EP
Southern California’s Random Parade has a string of past releases to their credit while never letting their songwriting quality slip. Random Parade’s inauspicious beginnings as a low-fi bedroom are blossoming into a full-throated realization of possibility. It is a mistake to label Random Parade’s music as any one thing in particular. Songwriter Gregory Christopher’s work overlaps several styles without ever sounding like a mishmash of disparate threads failing to cohere. Parade’s new album Never Meant to Last incorporates many of the strengths defining the band’s past releases, but the dimensions are deeper here. Random Parade has raised its game.
One of the reasons why there’s such a decided difference is intangible. There’s an obviously charged atmosphere, even inspired, hanging over those songs and it’s evident in the first track “Lockdown”. It’s a devastating portrait of the pandemic world at its height and one person’s experience trying to navigate the psychological toll. Hard-hitting drums prevent listeners from turning away from the song’s reality and the guitar work is, in turn, muscular and stepped in dread.
“Open Windows” is another song where dread hangs over the general climate. Christopher’s lyrics carry that particular load this time out over a tightly wound alt-rock arrangement. Perhaps, art rock is a better label if one must be applied. The lean herky-jerky arrangement packs plenty of power and, once again, the drumming commands your attention. Random Parade wheels out big gun guitar near the end of “Battleground State”. Much of what precedes it, however, is reminiscent of the preceding song. “Battleground State”, however, is much leaner and sinewy. Guitar plays a lead role in the band’s sound, but it’s never in a stereotypical fashion. Even the aforementioned heavier passages are clearly driven by consideration rather than mindless thrashing.
The most complete track on the release for many will be “Funeral Exhale”. It revisits the darker musical territory the album traveled at its beginning and finds even greater success. The unsettling mood created during the song’s first half grows after its half way point and there’s particularly excellent guitar as well. “Firing Line” pulls listeners out of that darkness, at least to an extent, by balancing it with a surprisingly sharp commercial edge. It’s one of the album’s better tracks and leaves its mark on listeners.
Closing with “This is the Day” reinforces a sense of thematic, even conceptual, unity present throughout Never Meant to Last. It boasts arguably the most attention-catching guitar work on the album. Even one listen to the album, the first song through last, shows Gregory Christopher began working on the release with a strong set of songs and knew what he wanted. If this isn’t the case, the confidence radiating from the collection is all the more remarkable. Random Parade’s new album Never Meant to Last contradicts itself on one point, if no other – Christopher’s songs are meant to last and grow more so with each new work. Random Parade hasn’t even reached their peak yet and that’s an impressive thing to note after hearing this great album.