Moving on from their campus haunt

Clark Hall house band Friends of Genghis release debut EP ‘Stuck in the Clouds’ as tenure expires

Three Sci ‘14 students make up Friends of Genghis.
Three Sci ‘14 students make up Friends of Genghis.

It’s difficult to believe that Friends of Genghis only recently began to receive more recognition within the community.

The group’s debut EP album Stuck in the Clouds was released on iTunes this past week, making the Clark Hall Pub band’s tunes available to those who don’t frequent the campus hotspot for bingo night.

Stuck in the Clouds is successful in coming off as a cohesive, creative whole. The single “Blue Skies” will remind listeners of the band’s main influences: the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Jimi Hendrix, with smooth guitar solos that add an old-style feel to a song that goes well with the lead singer’s throaty, soulful vocals. “Blue Skies” captures the overall tone of the album and the band’s style.

Prior to winning a battle of the bands competition this past September, after which they became the Clark Hall Pub house band, the group built up their musical repertoire to form an alternative rock sound, with electronic and blues elements. Friends of Genghis consists of three Sci ’14 students: lead vocalist Jordan Shew, bassist Andrew “Brown Magic” Gagnon-Nandram, and drummer Fred Bowen. Shew and Gagnon-Nandram met during first year and quickly began playing music together in residence. Bowen joined soon after. Over the next two years, the trio worked on covers and wrote original songs.

It’s clear that Friends of Genghis aren’t afraid to stray from their familiar approach and experiment with adding elements of electric pop/rock and blues to their music in order to create a refreshing sound.

My personal favourite on the album, “One Last Time”, stands out because of this.

The song captured my attention and also induced some confusion; the music is electronic and whimsical while also incorporative of the band’s fundamental rock style, which impressed me. It’s distinct, as it includes both the old-school, rock feel that the band exudes while smoothly blending in a new-wave pop sound.

Despite the notable display of musical versatility, the album can lack what seems to come naturally to the band — mellow, soulful sound while still identifying as rock, by seemingly forcing the rock aspect at points. “Change My Mind” reflects this, although it should be known that the guitar/drumming solos played together by Bowen and Gagnon-Nandram are near-perfect.

However, put together with the lyrical melodies, I wasn’t buying the sound that they went for. There seems to be a more forced “rocker sound” being approached, heard through the abrupt lyrical breaks and harsher music.

The imaginative and mellow elements seen in the other songs aren’t fully present here, although with a few tweaks, the song has full potential to be on par with the others.

The debut EP album Stuck in the Clouds is an impressive collection of songs that contain thought-provoking lyrics and remarkable instrumentals that work together as one powerful unit.

Though at times the album doesn’t quite perfect the sound being reached for, the band is musically multifaceted — apparent in an album full of versatility and unexpected musical twists.

Friends of Genghis will play a CD release concert Friday night.

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