Nashville’s Reality Something is set to perform alongside several local acts next month at Gibson Music Hall to celebrate the release of Redshift Headlights’ new album, but you don’t need to wait that long to get a feel for what the band has to offer.
The four-piece features Bill Grasley (an alum of The Traveling Suitcase) on bass and could best be described as alt-rock glimmering with grunge influence and passionate female vocals. Quick vocal comparisons can be made to Avril Lavigne and other iconic rock divas of the late 90s and early 00s. However, Reality Something also carries some of the grit we’ve seen from The Cranberries and manages showcase a pastiche of musical elements that bands like Stone Temple Pilots were known for.
Elena Franklin’s vocals are undeniably the distinguishing factor – grunge, at least in the mainstream, largely lacked female presence. While the genre may have seemingly run its course, Franklin is not content on letting this chapter of musical history close without penning in her own signature. Enter the band’s debut album, Life Noise.
Let’s set a scene first: you wake up in a bedroom of a house you don’t recognize. It’s too dark to really make out any specifics of the room. The door suddenly opens and you’re greeted with a few strangers who look upon you with uncertainty. Now that the door is open, you get a better glimpse of your surroundings. You can see the olive green wallpaper that’s peeling away in parts and there are clothes casually strewn across the floor. You still have no idea where you are or how you got here.
It’s this feeling of disorientation, of trying to make sense of change and life itself amidst the loss of all familiarity, that serves as the backdrop to the themes presented on Life Noise. There’s an apparent vulnerability, if not uneasiness, at play that is flaunted to some degree: titles like “Hate Yourself”, “Manipulation”, “Queen of Nothing”, and “Fail You” certainly fit the album’s authentic nature and the lyrics are no less powerful in this respect.
Musically, Life Noise is a hazy, mid-tempo, and nostalgic. Franklin’s voice is oddly familiar, managing to run the gamut of Sheryl Crow, Sharon Costanzo of Len, and The Go-Go’s. Guitar parts are grainy and chord-based, with an occasional lead part breaking through. In terms of the drumming, there’s a heavy focus on tight snare and cymbal use. Bass is unobtrusive, helping round off the rhythm section and complement the guitar melodies.
Ultimately, Reality Somethings’ first full-length is promising. There’s little doubt Life Noise would have been an instant hit two decades back; for current listeners, it’s a refreshing resurgence of a sound many of us grew up with. It’s the sonic equivalent of seeing a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Even though the context has changed, the connection is still there. Franklin’s dynamic voice positions her well as the band’s frontwoman and it will be interesting to see how she continues to expand her palette of influences. Life Noise is certainly moody and slow at parts, so it’s not the best album for all occasions. But its lyrics are ripe with personal subject matter that is bound to resonate with listeners burdened with the changing seasons of life.
Listen below to track 1 off of the album or check out the album on Bandcamp.
photo by Bridgette Aikens// Infinity Cat Recordings, courtesy of Reality Something