North of Tomorrow – Something Unexpected Album Review: An Unexpected Joy

Music is a form of expression. For North of Tomorrow, a band of longtime friends from Arizona, “Something Unexpected” is simply the next logical step for them. With a mission to make music that stands out, lead vocalist Brian Mueller says “I guess I just get bored easily. It is just that I have so many musical interests and ideas that I don’t see the point of writing the same song or feel over and over again.” From the top, the track “New October” makes this mission clear.

The hypnotic and spacey synths are instantly engrossing. When the guitar creeps in, the smooth, echoing vocals closely follow. The bassline grooves underneath the rest of the instrumentals, adding a good sense of depth that layers well beneath the busy guitar plucks and bright synths. Right after the 2-minute mark the track feels like it lets loose and jams. The track goes through a tour de force of different styles of guitar solos during the second half of the track between different vocal cues, from trippy and synth-laden to the classic wailing jams that feel evoke the rock and roll spirit that’s impossible to not rock out to. With an equally smooth vocal performance backed by an incredibly catchy chorus, “New October” makes an excellent first impression to “Something Unexpected” and shows off an impressively robust sound.

“It Could Have Been Me” is an equally impressive track. Heavy percussion created by the drums and bass create a mysterious atmosphere, which is solidified by the creeping guitar plucks sprinkled on top. The smooth vocal performance has a subtle edge, with an in-your-face attitude that’s easy to parse from the lyrics. The backup vocals give it a dash of soul that creates an alluring quality without dulling the tracks’ edge. From the top, lines such as “I do my best work at midnight. Or 2 or 3 am. I stay away from the streetlights. I like the darkness on my skin” give an air of criminality to the track, which is doubled down on later with lines such as “I come in through the window. The wolf is at the door. Never in a hurry. As I cross the kitchen floor.” The jazzy vocals do a great job of giving this devious tale a sexy quality, making the mysterious atmosphere of the track feel a bit dangerous. The attitude of “It Could Have Been Me” is made clear when the thrashing guitars creep up behind everything else before slowly taking over the track whenever they’re featured. Though the mood of the track is decidedly dark, especially when compared to the track before it, the beat is groovy and is easy to get lost in. Offering quite the flip from the bright aesthetic of “New October,” “It Could Have Been Me” feels like the other side of the coin of the intro track. It makes a notable first impression, just from the other side, making this track instantly stand out.

“SuperExtraordinary” is another stand-out track. The rambling bass and bright pianos set up a heavy aesthetic before the drums kick the track into overdrive. The bassline in this track is dynamic and interesting to follow, and gives the track an ethereal quality when paired with the sitar. The pianos and synths in the track give the track a cinematic quality, with the piano giving the track an interesting sense of depth while the spacey synths give it a bright quality.  Lyrically, the track is a love song. From the top, the opening lines “SuperExtraordinary. Another girl like you, can’t think of any” and later in the track others such as “Maybe one day we will marry. Have a house and kids and a little dog. I’ll work real hard at my little job” further solidify the message, which has a classic wholesome feel. The smooth croons combined with the dramatic aesthetic of the pianos gives “SuperExtraordinary” an old school feel that’s easy to jam out to.

“Shakey Bones” is an excellent instrumental atmospheric track with some crazy guitar porn. The finger snaps add a nice jazzy touch and as always, the bass grooves are as smooth as butter. The drums are just as smooth, giving the track a contemplative quality when they jam on that hi-hat behind the shredding of the guitars and smooth jams of the bass. “Shakey Bones” is a stand-out instrumental track that is packed with musical surprises, with the aesthetic of a musical battleground that’s locked in a war between forces led by dueling guitars.

“Something Unexpected” is an incredible listen. From the top, “New October” grabs you and North of Tomorrow simply refuses to let you go before the end of “Something Out Of Nothing.” Each track has its own personality and is hard to skip, with ear-catching sounds at the top of each one with genre-bending aesthetics at their core. Tracks such as “Window Dressing” and “It Could Have Been Me” are perfect examples of tracks creating a specific atmosphere to make you feel totally immersed in the listening experience. This quality makes it easy to get lost in the album and the stories it tells, such as the love story that starts in “SuperExtraordinary” and ends in “We Were A Heart Away.” These stories are full of emotion and feel personal, but each track still has a solid beat that anyone can jam to. After just one listen of “Something Unexpected,” you’ll find it hard to not hit repeat and listen to it all again.

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