Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this edition of Independent Spotlight I’ll be taking a look at ‘Metro Expo 1,’ the first album from Metro Expo. The band name is the moniker of Fred Marcoty, who wrote and performed the entirety of the record by himself. The project will drop this spring, but we’re going to take an inside look at the record before it’s made widely available.
‘Metro Expo 1’ is a concept album that is very introspective in nature, focusing on a transition between teenage years and adulthood. Concept albums are a difficult beast to tackle; they can be direct in their narrative or they can be much more obscure: think ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ or ‘Ziggy Stardust.’
Immediately, the production value of ‘Metro Expo 1’ is notable. It’s elegantly mixed and mastered and Marcoty has done an superb job self-producing. His instrumentation is eclectic and provocative, dancing through a few different rock-based genres with ease. Essentially, Metro Expo harnesses a garage band-esque sound that finds a nice balance with electronic instrumentation and synthesized effects. If you took Dave Grohl’s rock and roll drive and combined it with musical tinkering the likes of Thom Yorke, your product would be reminiscent of Metro Expo.
The songs utilize a wide array of instrumentation, though perhaps the brass sections are the most unique and compelling. The songs on ‘Metro Expo 1’ are also quite lengthy, but that tends to come with the territory on concept albums. They’re drastically different, however, and the darker tones of ‘You’ve Stolen Millions’ are a stark contrast to the atmospheric soundscape crafted in ‘The Shore.’
Personally, I’d claim there’s something about ‘While You Look Away’ that is absolutely magical. It’s damn catchy, incredibly musically inventive, and flirts with an oddball mix of traditional European jams and New Orleans jazz clubs. The jazzy nature of the track sums up the musical persona that Marcoty amasses throughout the record: diverse, cultured, and intelligent.
The lyrics of the album are very introspective and even existential as Marcoty leads you on musical journey about crafting one’s identity. His vocals are peculiar, and even sound a bit like the crazed frontman of Gogol Bordello. With that said, I can’t imagine this music presented by any other vocal style. His deep, raspy crooning is very enjoyable, even when it is a bit overproduced in tracks like ‘Inertia’ with droning echoes and reverb.
‘Metro Expo 1’ is an absolutely incredible achievement. From the stellar seven minute introduction to ‘The Swan Lullaby,’ listeners will be transported on an intelligent, beautifully written voyage through one of the most interesting musical environments I’ve encountered in a very long time. It sounds a whole lot like some of the best records Pink Floyd put out, actually. That’s a high compliment for an album that definitely earned it.
Random fun fact: Marcoty performed the drums on my second Rivers Rubin record as well!