Funeral Designs, the debut release of rock trio, BlackGlass, is the dirty, fuzzy, reverb-y love child of vocalist/guitarist Silas Mishler, bassist/guitarist Dan Jarvis, and drummer Sarah Neczwid.
Things get moving immediately with the strong hook of the album opener, “All Out Fall Out”. While the verses drop the hook in favor of a steady drum and bass line, Silas still manages to give us a peek at the energetic vocal performances that help make Funeral Designs so fantastic. By the third verse, Silas is giving it his all, and by the time that the shouted refrain ends, “All Out Fall Out” has cemented itself as one of my favorite tracks on the record.
“State Of The Union” starts with a haunting a Capella version of the chorus but kicks into a groove noticeably grittier than that of “All Out Fall Out”. Fans of Cold War Kids will definitely dig the tone of this track.
Sarah brings “Meaty Bams” in with a killer groove that lays the foundation for the ethereal guitar work throughout the verses. Slowing things down a bit, “Meaty Bams” sets the pace for the next few tracks. The change in vibe isn’t at all a detriment as Silas brings the vocals from a groan to a shout over the slowly swelling music.
“Red Ropes” is another mid-tempo tune with a memorable guitar riff driving the verses. Soaked in echo and delay, this is some of my favorite guitar work on the album. With a battle cry at the halfway mark, Silas kicks the track up a notch for its energetic break before settling it back down again.
Another one of my favorite tracks is “St. James River” and it features BlackGlass at their most reserved. The song is host to quiet verses and a strong steady chorus with memorable lyrics. Ghostly harmonies and bell work help to shape the tone of the track and give it a vibe unique to the rest of the album.
After a handful of slower tunes, “Ohio” brings the heat back into the record and acts as the perfect album closer. The bass here is at its fuzziest as Dan and Sarah keep the track chugging along, while Silas gives his most emotive performance of the album. The track’s frantic guitar solo is the icing on the cake and Funeral Designs goes out like it came in – with a bang.
Out last April, you can pick up a copy of Funeral Designs as a limited edition cassette. If you’re in Chicago, you can see BlackGlass live next Thursday, 10/29, at Schuba’s Tavern with The Stone Foxes. Grab all the details here.