Austin John is a Montreal/Toronto band that features the songs of singer/guitarist Todd Austin John Elsliger. The band formed in 2006 and last year released a nine-song album entitled The Better Way Back When.
I thought the album was primarily rock based but I wouldn't say hard rock. There’s a fairly strong '70s aesthetic to the songs. The album starts with “Keep Looking” which feels like an opener. I loved the syncopated bass line and how the organ, guitar and drums play around it. There’s also some catchy vocals and what sounds like bongos. Great start.
The energy gets ramped up on “Indifference” which is a fun and forward moving song. I was reminded of a band like The Shins on this song. There’s more space on the title track “The Better Way Back When” but also a lot more funk which sounds fantastic. The vocals on the chorus sound really good as well.
One of the more nostalgic and warm songs is entitled “Honeymoon’ which is another track with memorable vocal melodies. “Somebody Else” is a stripped back song with just some acoustic guitar and vocals.
The funk comes back with “Purple Tribute Song” where they reference tons of musicians from Michael Jackson to Prince. “Does Anyone Change Their Mind Anymore?” is lush and melodic while “Neil” is celebratory with perhaps the strongest roots in an Americana sound. Last up is the slightly more pensive yet comforting “Listen.”
This is a great album from beginning to end. The experience of the band is evident and they hit it out of the park with this release. Recommended.
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