Album Review :
Shards of Heartshell - I Looked at the Clock

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Artist: Shards of Heartshell
Album: I Looked at the Clock
Label: None (released independently)
Release Date: February 9, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettersson

Tracklist:
1. To Communicate
2. My Imperfections
3. The Sun Shines
4. (intro)
5. Rest Your Mind
6. On the Way to Town
7. It Hurts So Much
8. When
9. I Looked at the Clock
10. Gaze at Grace

I recently went to see The Early November here in Reading, Pennsylvania at a venue called The Silo. At the show I was introduced to a friend of a friend whom I had already seen plenty of times around town. His name: Jaron Weidner. We talked a little bit with an unspoken understanding that we each grew up home-schooled and are only now figuring out how to interact with people we’ve just met. Still, we worked our ways to the point of handing each other our propaganda. I gave him his selection from a bag of Indie Vision Music pins, and he gave me a CD. This disc sat on my desk for a week or two before I finally got around to playing it one night while catching up on some reading, and on first listen I was shocked at how good it was.

The main reason I was so impressed is the production quality. Jaron told me he recorded this in his basement, but you would never guess. Most of the songs are acoustic, and many of those have typical bongo drums in the background. Jaron’s voice is not the best, but it’s not bad, and he probably just needs more practice and confidence to kick it up a notch. The guitar tones sound great the whole time, and the creative addition of female vocals on “The Sun Shines” and “Rest Your Mind” are more than welcome. When giving the CD to people for the first time, Jaron describes it as experimental. “The Sun Shines,” backed by electronic drum patterns, includes an eerie drone throughout and towards the end of this slow and somber acoustic track, Jaron’s hardcore roots shine through as he begins screaming long and hard. There is a thick buzz effect over the screamed vocals, and it actually fits the song well. “(intro)” is an electronic interlude that sounds more techno than indie. Jaron screams for all of “It Hurts So Much,” a song based on acoustic picking, with his mysteriously good production skills clearly putting the effect-heavy screams in the background. His hardcore vocals are most prominent on “When,” which brings in the only distorted electric guitar on the album, mixed with electronic drum patterns and some industrial loops.

With music so ranged, I Looked at the Clock maintains a consistent feel and an overall acoustic sound. And while Jaron put so much into the musical side of things, he insists that his main focus and passion is in the lyrics. “My Imperfections” talks of regret after stabbing a friend in the back. “When” reminds the listener that Jesus is always there, and “Gaze at Grace” reflects on Christ even through the chaos of life. Serious issues for a seriously good first independent release.

6/10

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