Ryan Bingham :: Tomorrowland

Ryan Bingham’s music is Americana done Los Angeles style, a city slicker troubadour with a side of New Mexico bull fighter. His new album, Tomorrowland, hints at all of that, and more. It is a little bit of tequila soaked country, a heavy dose of late nights in the city, and a raspy-voiced love gone wrong feeling that permeates the entire album, dripping off the songs, each of them contagiously intoxicating you until you feel drunk off of the sounds.

At times I hear Ryan Adams alt-rock heartbreak, other times it is Bruce Springsteen politics and sensibilities, and then The White Stripes’ thrust and pounce strength of sound sneak in. But, most of the time, it is something uniquely Ryan I am hearing here: unique, ripped off bandage raw, heart-wrenching, and undisputedly rocking. This is Ryan’s fourth album, self-produced after he left his Lost Highway label and Dead Horses band, and it shows. You can feel the freedom in this album, the “I’m here, listen up” kind of exclamation, and listen up you do, you must, this album drives you to hurry up and listen.

Guess Who’s Knockin’ is my initial favorite, the song I want to blast on high while driving down the 101 freeway, singing-a-long in that car-concert kind of way. This is a cathartic song, a scream and let it go number that is meant for hard day surviving and demon shedding.

Heart of Rhythm is another favorite of mine, reminding me a little of early Generation X and some of those forever unknown local bands I used to see play the clubs on Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica, back in the day. There is also something that reminds me of 70’s rock operas in this song. I listen over and over, and want to choreograph the hell out of it, imagining it played out on-stage in my head. So many songs and albums I listen to make me want to write to them, music being my biggest muse, but this album makes me want to create something visual. It taps on my musical theatre past and does not let up.

Keep It Together and Never Ending Show bring to mind a television show in my head, something told to the viewer in post card sent snapshots from the road. I see a much better music-filled drama then Glee or Smash ever could be, something from a hard-working, heavy touring band, sometimes told by them, and sometimes told from the eye-view of a fan. This album is so chock full of visual imagery and storytelling that lends itself to being seen, to me, it keeps filling my head up with sights to go along with the sounds.

No Help From God is the heartbreaker of the album, and it is where I hear the other Ryan (Adams) most, though this Ryan sounds grittier, and in this song, more desolate. I can hear the desert in this song, and loneliness. “Sometimes the truth is scared of the dark” is one of those lyrical refrains that I will hang on to for a good, long time, the truth in it resonating so deeply it stings at my soul.

Tomorrowland, as an album overall, is a different layer of one of my favorite “music” terms, “music drunk”. It is the kind of punch drunk love affair that I can only ever have with music, the “lose yourself within an album and do not resurface until it ends” kind of relationship that I am ever drawn to. This album makes me miss vinyl albums, side 1’s and side 2’s, and the notion of actually listening to an album in its entirety, and not a song here and there shuffling to the queue through endless playlists.

Heart Of Rhythm :: Ryan Bingham

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