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Opposite Day — I Calculate Great
(Future Banana Replacement , 2017, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2017-10-27
Austin’s Sam Arnold and Opposite Day are back with a vengeance on their new album, I Calculate Great, their tenth album. Looking at the cover art, I surmise that a couple of panda astronauts in an alternative universe made some wrong calculations with their “Panda Formula,” developed a “Radar Face” by staring at the screens too long while suffering from scurvy and trying to answer the question is there “Life on Mars?” subsequently landing on the wrong planet in their Mercury capsule in the middle of a tornado and getting stuck in a tree. The pandas then investigate the “Noise Noise” heard on entry and assess “All of Our Mission” by walking in a field of poppies and carrying a six-pack Igloo cooler. But perhaps I am reading too much into this. Coming from a different angle, I Calculate Great presents eight new original songs and two cover tracks that blend heavy bass riffing ala Les Claypool, rapid aggressive drumming, strong progressive guitar work, and the Tornadorchestra (mallet percussion, piano, cellos, woodwinds, violins, violas, and trombone). Opposite Day’s new drummer Eoghan McColskey is excellent and full of energy. And of course Sam Arnold on guitar and Greg Yancey on bass continue to push the envelope. The guests, The Tornadorhestra, include members of other bands in the Austin community such as Stop Motion Orchestra, The Invincible Czars, and Sam Arnold and the Secret Keepers. The two cover tunes, for me, are the album highlights. It is very brave of Opposite Day to cover David Bowie, especially one of his iconic tunes “Life on Mars?” Opposite Day have actually reinterpreted this song using their distinct sound. In fact, you don’t even recognize the song until Sam’s voice enters with the lyrics. They have created an excellent and wonderful heavy prog-metal version. And the album closer, which is arguably the best track on the disc and could be the best Opposite Day tune ever, is their superb rendition of Ravel’s “Bolero” that showcases each band members’ strong chops, be it on drums, bass, or lead guitar. Sam’s multi-layered guitar shows a true appreciation for this well known classical music piece. And just like an orchestral performance, Opposite Day slowly builds to a bombastic climax and essentially a “mic drop” to close the disc. Opposite Day are on tour during October 2017, so if you happen to live in Austin,TX, Denton, TX, Kansas City, MO, Lawrence, KS, or Tulsa, OK make it a point of hearing them live.
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