By: Brian Heisler
Formerly Bockman's Euphio, Chasing Dragons is the band's first effort under its new shortened name, Bockman. The Missouri band has been turning heads and climbing the festival lineup ladder for the past several years, somewhat under the radar of most people. With melodic tunes and structured jams, Bockman has been cutting a great sound that fits in many different directions and genres.
Chasing Dragons takes a bit of a different turn from Gorjus, Bockman's Euphio's last release. The entertaining jams have been replaced in large part by more concentrated songwriting. The lead track, "Tied to the Moon," is the best piece of the album, ranging from a slow keys intro to a soft jam focused on the keys and bass to somber lyrics with backup vocals. It's a great start to the album, bridging where the band's previous work left off and where they're going "Isis" does a good job of managing the bright, easy to follow sound, as well. However, from here it changes quite drastically to darker sounds - sometimes more lyrically focused, sometimes harder, definitely different than what's been the norm for Bockman. While they favored bouncy, bright jams in the past, they now possess a more indie rock feel.
If listeners are looking for the feel of Bockman's Euphio the new sound misses a bit, just not providing the same bright spots one might hope for. From a jamming perspective, there is little to grab onto. There's not much to cringe about on Chasing Dragons either but the band's previous rich work creates a high standard and this album is a few steps away from the free flowing, more-feeling-less-thinking sound the band had practiced..
On the other hand, Bockman's new sound may open a new direction for the band. Whether intended or not, the new sound may cross genres with its focus on songwriting. What Chasing Dragons lacks in creative instrumentation, it picks up in creative choruses and the progression of light and dark moods within songs. "Squirrel View" exemplifies the new approach with rough guitars, distorted bass and simplified drum parts. "Rad" moves like a melancholy dance track with a breakdown in the middle, providing a feel not unlike say VHS or Beta. The song certainly produces head bobbing and a few dance moves, yet meshes with much of the album in its dark vocal tones. The album closes with a building ballad, "The Calm Before," that puts forth the band's emotions, teetering between the point of dragging on and giving fans a chance to raise lighters and belt out lyrics in the live setting. As is often the case with Chasing Dragons, it's hit or miss.
Between Bockman's great instrumentation and newfound songwriting, it will be interesting to see how this new music fits into the band's live repertoire. An artful eye with interesting new motives seems to have a hold of the music that may open doors, but the catchy instrumentals and overall attraction that made Bockman a "must see" is largely missing on Chasing Dragons.
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