1. Nothing, Save The Power They’re Given
2. Dear G-d…
3. The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget
4. This Loneliness Won’t be the Death Of Me
5. The Sea Always Seems To Put Me At Ease
6. Salute e Vita
7. It’s Really Not As Complicated As You’re Making It Out To Be
8. Humble Servant, Am I
9. This Room Is Alive
10. We Will Never Be The Same
11. If They’re Not Counted, Count Me Out
I remember a time in my teenage years when music seemed to be a dangerous experiment. The 90s breeded the term “alternative”, which essentially was a classification for every music artist who didnt fit into any real genre, but instead blended elements from many. In the underground scene, that meant we were seeing jazz mixed with hip-hop, punk mixed with reggae, and even rock putting its big muscular arm around rap to create nu-metal and rapcore. Some really HORRIBLE music came out of this era, but it created a culture of creativity that yielded albums that fueled every second of my day. It seemed like the sky was the limit, and I was always excited to see what was next.
Being As An Ocean, and their debut full-length Dear G-d…, reminds me of that time in my teens, and what music sounds like when artists are brave enough to take risks and stretch their core genres a bit. If you havent heard them, Being As An Ocean sounds like a blend of melodic hardcore, Explosions In The Sky-esque atmospheric rock, and spoken word “talk music” similar to La Dispute, Listener, or mewithoutYou. The band’s name lends to their sound, because their songs are very much like an ocean, sometimes abrasive and choppy, and other times soothing and calm. At their core, they are a hardcore band, but these Alpine, CA natives don’t follow many of the rules their scene seems hold to. That is a good thing.
When the band is at its heaviest on tracks like “This Room Is Alive” and “Humble Servant, Am I”, they hold their own against many of the hardcore bands today. When they land harder on their melodic side with songs like the title track and “The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget” they display maturity beyond their years by blending etherial guitar tones and driving rhythms. Frontman Joel Quartuccio’s ability to not only scream his head off and sing his heart out but also deliver passionate, intelligent spoken word elements effortlessly on almost every track of Dear G-d… give Being As An Ocean a one-of-a-kind quality sorely lacking in the scene today. The band is versatile, creative, and interesting on nearly every track.
Lyrically, the album was written (according to Quartuccio) as a sort of journal directed at God. Each song feels very personal, almost like you are ease-dropping on a prayer. The topics range from the deeply spiritual to heart-break and grief, all of which (if we are being honest), make up the majority of what we come to the Father with on a daily basis. The open lines of the first track set the mood perfectly:
“These words might mean nothing
But it’s a chance I’m willing to take
Cause maybe I’m wrong and lives can change
I’m singing out of my insecurity
So someone, somewhere might be impacted by what I’ve made”
Dear G-d… is an album that cant be taken in on ONE listen, it has to be experienced over and over to to fully grasp at the depth of what is being said here. As I am listening to the album for this review, I am once again finding nuances I had not picked up on before, and I’ve owned the record since 2012. I applaud Joel for being so raw, and this openness I believe is why the band has met a decent amount of success despite being the “new kid” on the block.
Virtually any complaint I have about Dear G-d… stems from the fact that this IS Being As An Ocean’s first album. There are spots on the record that you feel like the band didn’t know when to punch a heavy part or shorten a atmospheric section. This in no way takes away from the power of the tracks, but at points makes them sound a little distracted in their own song writing. It is a common problem for any band attempting to blend genres that don’t have obvious connections to each other ( ex. Beloved, early mewithoutYou, and Undroath). They have found their voice creatively, but moving forward I hope they can focus it a little and cut away some of their more wandering moments; resulting in a tighter, stronger sound.
Overall: I think with Dear G-d.. we are witnessing the beginning of a truly great band in our scene. For Being As An Ocean to have an album THIS strong right out of the gate with some much depth and so much commitment is nothing short of amazing. This album is not for everyone; it takes time to truly understand Dear G-d…, and the art of truly listening to an album has been lost on most of us. The effort taken by the listener in this case is richly rewarded and will yield many replays over time. The future is bright for Being As An Ocean, and if Dear G-d… is the beginning, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
RIYL: mewithoutYou, Hundredth, Listener, Beloved, Levi The Poet, As Cities Burn, La Dispute, Toche Amore