If you look around the country, you can pretty much find an indie rock band in every corner of it. It’s a genre that at one time felt scant, yet now has a growth rate that’s leaps and bounds of where it was twenty years ago. While to me, indie rock has a specific sound, there’s been very little change to those core elements in how indie rock has sounded over the years. While writing “The Best of The Week,” I stumbled across Houston’s Mourning Bliss. The three piece has a sound that takes the traditional indie rock structure and reinvents it in a new and fresh way. There are moments of their 2015 album, Nation of Ghosts, that incorporate ambient electronica, orchestral pop, and traditional indie rock so eloquently, that I was shocked I’d never heard of the band before. What I found was a sound that any ardent indie rock fan should lend an ear to, alongside everyone else who has a penchant for those doing things their own way.
Opening with the almost dark wave intro of “What Lies,” these ghostly vocals and haunting piano greet the listener in a way that’s very intriguing. The trio’s use of bass and electronic programming close the track off as quickly as it begins, offering up something so different yet eerily familiar at the same time. Those electronics continue on the beginning of “Until the sun hits the ground,” before a synth sets the pace for an almost chill wave sound. When the vocals sheepishly come in, they echo the likes of early Death Cab For Cutie works mixed with elements of Rogue Wave. The electronic elements soon get met with a squirrely guitar that begins a relationship with the synths that create a sound you should immediately fall for. That love affair should continue on the third song, “Marked Up Skin,” where the band openly begins things in an endearing and catchy demeanor. While those Death Cab elements return, there’s a heavier and more traditional indie rock sound here that these three do as strong as anyone who sticks to the formula of how the genre typically sounds.
Around the fourth track, “Drearu,” you should realize that these three aren’t going to follow any rule that you may expect. The band uses an acoustic guitar in tandem with varying synths that seem to fall underneath the vocals, creating a sound that only magnifies the piano when it finds its way onto the track. The same could be said about the echoed drums on “The Safe,” where the vocals dance underneath them alongside strings that add a haunting element to a song that’s catchy in it’s pace. There’s so much happening here that it’s hard to place a finger on what you find more engaging. When the piano and vocals take over the track, they give you a sound that’s haunting and beautiful, while the pop structure of the song’s stride are hard to turn away from. Two tracks later on “Back to you,” the band adds dual vocals that seep into every crevice of your soul. The use of electronics here is truly mesmerizing, while the pop elements of the song can’t go unnoticed.
The band closes off the album with the almost anthemic sound of “Revenge,” where they pull off a sound that’s more grandiose than that of the rest of the release. Full of pauses where one or two instruments create a relationship before a third finds its way in, there’s a build on the track that gives it a stronger sense of purpose and emotion. The album may remind you of many things, or maybe you’ll feel like you’ve heard elements of it somewhere else, but it shouldn’t feel like anything else at the same time.
While Nation of Ghosts has only been available digitally from the band on their Bandcamp until now. You can also get a physical copy from the band when they perform in the studio at Warehouse Live this Sunday. The all-ages show has performances from Swimming With Bears and Anchor, the Mammoth with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $8 and $10.