Listening to Nathan Angelo, my eyes grew and I became impressed and confused at the same time. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was inundated with a wave of chaos in music of the ultra polished. The invention and mass incorporation of auto-tune into pop music allowed for complex chords and harmonies to replace the inherent roughness of the grunge and ska music that it replaced. The overdriven and near collapsing melodies of the dark edge of radio hits, were replaced with great vigor the endearing pop music as it was resurrected mid-decade. The boy band and the pop girl solo act became so preeminent that by the end of the decades, it was all you could find; thus helping to solidify the alternative scene and place irrevocably on a pedestal the bands that rebelled, like your Radioheads. As a young male in high school during this era, I can tell you that this music was like drowning in a pool of gravy; overwhelming, thick, and unable to see out. It was every dance, played by every girl and, I still get a bit twitchy at times around it.
This is the issue I had with Nathan Angelo. On one hand, I was excited, but unprepared. A friend of mine and his wife were talking about Nathan Angelo very favorably and usually at his house, between his, Billy’s, Scott’s and my music that is played, it is usually alt/indie, like most of my pretension. However, the first 5-15 seconds told me I was in for a different ride.
Nathan Angelo’s album is out of time. Playing like the auto-tuned, over engineered albums of yesteryear, the tracks pulse with drums, fluctuating between synthesized and edited. The vocals are layered to sound harmonious. The guitar is poppy, but the melodies are all from the overwhelming voice.
The real issue, for me at least, is no matter how you cut it, I really enjoyed this album. By all the evidence, I should have seen this as the audition track for Backstreet Boys or that terrible reality show band O-Town. Yet, unlike the evolved form of this, the non-musical American Idol, which sounds more like voice exercises than music, Nathan Angelo is actually singing quite beautifully; at points, even powerfully. My distrust was there, however, there is something so comfortable and interesting about the album I listened straight through it. It was not unlike a nostalgia trip, there is something familiar about this album that makes it hard to stop. Give it a listen, but be prepared to be surprised.