I’m hoping by now that you’ve heard about Thomas Pridgen (once drummer of the Mars Volta) and what he’s been cooking up in the bay area for a while now. A new project, The Memorials, was launched last year with his good friends Viveca Hawkins and Nick Brewer.

The band has been waiting in darkness, letting the hype grow over the last six months or so, but it’s finally time for you all to hear their self-titled album in its entirety. I’ve had it in my close album rotation for at least 3 months now (perks of the job) and it’s definitely a new level of power in black rock community. What better than the week of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday than to release an album that in itself stands for equality, breaking down racial confinements (or maybe just norms?) in music once again for musicians.

You’ve probably also seen the live clip video for their upbeat, ganja puffing California anthem, West Coast on my live show review back in July. Obviously the November release date was pushed back until this month, but I’d say it’s worth the wait. West Coast was an album favorite, but here’s three more that found a place in my lil ol heart.

I think that The Memorials will go down in history for their vicious breakdowns accompanied by Viveca’s astounding vocals. Exhibit A, We Go to War is a fine example. The first track on the album, the bass and guitar give tireless, strangely constructed madness to the ears. About mid-way through, Thomas breaks it the hell down on the drums along Viveca’s echoing voice, with the piano matching her notes.

Exhibit B of the heavy breakdown collection is the seventh track, GTFOMF. It features a teaser breakdown a few minutes in, with a full-fledged breakdown about halfway through the song that reigned supreme on the album. I felt this song was the emotional apex, with the lyrics carrying a certain ting of love meets hate, with hard hitting, yet precise drum work, with a romantic piano and high treble bass guitar breakdown. After the breakdown, it picks the energy up with a wild drum-roll before bringing the song home.

With the bass guitar taking the lead on the tenth track, Enough was my final favorite of the album. Everything else seemed to flow behind the treble heavy bass line, with what sounded like at least 16th notes blazing though the track at different intervals, with drum work to match. The steady guitar strumming helps to keep the pace on what at first seemed like an oddly timed song.

Catch The Memorials on their first nationwide tour, starting with January 18th’s show at The New Parish in Oakland. I’ll be at the LA show the following evening at the Cat Club, so come out and say hey, and pick a copy of the album!

Until next time my friends,

~Flak