Holy michael is it hot. Supposedly you get used to it, but much like rakija, I am 100% struggling in this oppressive heat. Obviously going back on anything I have ever said, here’s number 10 on my all time top 10 self titled albums. And no, things like Will Haven’s ‘WHVN’ aren’t allowed.
10: Strata – ‘Strata’
I was incredibly excited when this album came out. I first got into this band way back in the day when they were still called Downside. I used to trawl mp3.com in search of bands from around the world, more often than not falling onto duff but occasionally finding goodies (believe it or not, this is where I first heard InMe). Downside, or Strata as they would eventually become after a bit of legal wrangling, were the best band I found through this means. They released a mini album of sorts that I played to exhaustion, with songs like ‘Sleep’ and ‘In Soma’ in particular sounding exactly like the sort of thing I was searching for at that time. Their first album proper surfaced on the internet originally in demo form, called ‘When It’s All Burning’, and after finally signing a decent label deal it saw the light of day, simply entitled ‘Strata’.
Despite being familiar with all of the songs, it was and still is an absolute joy to listen to. Sure, the toms sound a bit strange, but this album manages to bridge the casm between taking you back to a time in your life and also still sounding fresh and exciting. Songs such as ‘I Will Breathe Fire’ and ‘Never There’ are songs that I enjoy as much today as I did 8 (eight!) years ago. Eric Victorino’s vocals show a heck of a load more range than the fronts of the bands they toured with back then, vocals that would be explored further on their 2nd record and Eric’s post-Strata band, The Limousines. The music itself also had much more depth than bands they were lumped in with, and it was this that snared me from the get go. There’s just something extra about songs like ‘The Panic’, and this is the reason it still sounds fresh today. However, it’s songs like the brooding (brilliant word) ‘Just Like Silk’ and dynamic changes of ‘We’ve changed’ that really excite me on this album, songs that were mixtape staples for a long long time.
Good word boys, and Hrag, I still have no idea how to pronounce your name.