Our consumption of music has changed. Digital downloads, and now, streaming services, have placed a premium on the rapid-fire release of singles over the carefully and complete idea of albums. Every detail of Leon III’s Antlers In Velvet feels like a time-warp to when listening to music was the main event, not just some background noise. This even includes how I first heard about the album: a two-sentence email from a trusted source that basically said, “Listen to this…” and a link. No flashy sales pitch, no hyperbole. It was like visiting a friend who had been to the record store who found a gem to share. I almost feel guilty writing a detailed review full of spoilers and won’t be offended if you jump straight to the album link.
Antlers in Velvet doesn’t just controvert modern music distribution and marketing. It gives us an unexpected rock grandeur that comes at a time when what we used to call indie pop and hip hop are storming the streaming airwaves. Itconjures thoughts of Pink Floyd-styled, spacey rock; My Morning Jacket’s penchant for sonic exploration; and a little touch of The Grateful Dead’s knack for making complex music feel spontaneous. The Texas-based band, led by Andy Stepanian (vocal, guitar, keyboard, piano, omnichord) and Mason Brent (guitar, bass, vocal, banjo), kick off the album with the epic “Fly Migrator.” Reminiscent of psychedelic rock of a bygone era, the track fills its nearly 10-minute run time with huge guitar swells, a jamming bass and drum undercurrent, and auditory wonder. From there, it transitions to the gentler “Faint Repeater,” which features an indie rock quality akin to The National with a chorus and faint folksy background that flirt with the electric edges adopted in modern Americana.
While I recommend listing to the album from front to back, additional highlights include the mood-changing, “Rumors of Water,” as well as the record’s title track. The former is strategically placed as the first song on the B side. It’s a continuation of the guitar forward rock we come to expect, but adds an ominous undercurrent thanks to darker sounding riffs and a delightfully disconcerting drum beat. The latter, “Antlers In Velvet,” is the perfect bookend to opener, “Fly Migrator.” With an air of reflection in the vocals, the song triggers the satisfaction of closure.
It’s no secret that the music industry is encouraging listeners to have a short attention span. However, with their sophomore album, Antlers In Velvet,Leon III challenges you to buck this trend with an album that allows you to sit down, relax, and enjoy a musical experience.
Leon III will be celebrating the release of Antlers In Velvet with a livestream party today, March 5 via their YouTube channel at 9pm ET. There will be a special “mind bending” visual experience and live chat with the band.