Voice in the Attic - 'After Songdown'

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 the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into a rather unique and fascinating artist. His name is BC Bogey, but his stage moniker is Voice in the Attic. He’s been an incredibly active independent artists for the better part of the last four years, releasing a whole slew of EPs and singles. ‘After Songdown,’ however, is officially his sophomore full-length studio endeavor, one that digs into the realm of coherent album creation and long-form creative direction. Let’s dig right into it.

There are two things I’d like to mention right off the bat - When Bogey approached me with his record, he prefaced that while it is not a concept record, it is an album that he attempted to create as a whole, rather that segmenting parts off that would be good for radio play or as singles. This is an admirable effort, perhaps one that’s slowly becoming archaic, at least, in the mainstream. I massively respect this approach, and in honesty, prefer an artist that takes the cohesiveness of a full album seriously. Second, he’s doing much better than perhaps he even anticipated - the single won an award in the UK and he’s on track for an Australian award and inclusion in a feature film.

When digging into ‘Songdown,’ I listened to the record all the way through thrice without interruption. This allowed me to hone into its quality as a full experience, because again, that’s the point of it. Bogey’s sound as Voice in the Attic is immediately likable and sharply produced. The opening track, ‘Day,’ exhibits him as a masterful crooner with a distinct voice. More so, I love the intricacy of the production right out of the gate. The sporadic piano noodling, the tight percussion, and the sly string sections all manifest into a remarkable experience. There’s an edge to it, and thus, if I was to classify it, I’d say Bogey is meandering somewhere between the singer-songwriter, folk, and alternative rock genres.

‘Glass,’ the instrumental included on the aforementioned feature film, is one of the defiant highlights of ‘Songdown.’ This elegant track truly exhibits Bogey’s prowess not just as a songwriter, but as a composer. I’d argue the piece is tinged endlessly with classical influence, and it is a rather contemporary classical piece in an introspective minor key. The song boils down to two main pieces - the piano which leads the dance and the string sections that are in pursuit.

Bogey has been providing the media with WAV files, which was both immensely appreciated and deeply important to these pieces. In laymen terms, WAV files are much, much higher quality than MP3 is, by a huge margin. These uncompressed goliaths clock the album in at over 400 megs. Thus, your listening experience on MP3’s may be of slightly less grandier than mine. Mine is, though, grand. As readers of the Spotlight know, I don’t just queue up my reviews on Apple earbuds in a coffee shop. No, I go into the studio and listen on industry monitors. Man, Voice in the Attic’s music is a treat in that setting. The folksy ‘On’ is a superb example of that, especially the harmonies toward the end. Breathtaking.

‘Reminisce’ draws ties to ‘Glass’ as a piano/string instrumental. Aurally, it’s similar, too, though it feels more forceful in its delivery. This is very good, because as you’ll notice early on in ‘Songdown,’ Bogey establishes a sound that he doesn’t deviate from too often. He manages to litter that sound with intricacies like ‘Reminisce,’ however, to keep it consistently compelling. ‘Ablaze,’ the following song, is one of the better exhibitions of acoustic songwriting. “They say life takes its toll,” Bogey croons over an intriguing landscape. Vocally, I’m not sure where I’d align him. If Eddie Vedder and Tom Waits were oddly combined, you may have something akin to Bogey.

The best song off the first half of ‘Songdown’ is most surely ‘Tear.’ The sparing female vocals are absolutely haunting, as are the vocals, delivery, and increasingly folksy instrumentation. In particular, Voice in the Attic seems to really understand the balance between a lone, emotional vocalist, and tactful harmonies. ‘Tear’ may be the best excursion of that on the album, and goodness, it’s chillingly well done.

‘Iridescent’ indicates a tonal change on the album. Though the piece still holds tightly to the acoustic guitar musings of the previous songs, it does tediously enter some sort of realm of alternative, or even acoustic progressive rock. It’s a short instrumental, shorter than the others, and acts as a segway between ‘Tear’ and ‘Over.’ Let’s talk about ‘Over.’

‘Over’ scored some significant recognition across the pond Bogey’s songwriting. It was damn well deserved - ‘Over’ is a remarkable songwriting endeavor, definitely one of the more notable pursuits on the album. I’ve actually heard the song before - I had to hastily Google the lyrics to prove myself wrong that it wasn’t a cover. I have no idea where, but the song is definitely recognizable. Anyway, I digress.

Remember my Tom Waits comparison? Well, Voice in the Attic fully embraces the Wait-isms on ‘Rhinoceri.’ Seriously, you’ll think you’re listening to ‘Rain Dogs.’ It’s one of the more experimental songs for sure, but one of the best. I love the spoken word poetry accentuating a very ‘Rain Dogs’ atmosphere. ‘Tribute,’ the tune following it, walks carefully beside a potentially copyright infringement, essentially tributing Foo Fighters and Nirvana. It’s an effective tune, one that technically falls into the ‘parody’ domain. (AKA - Legal.)

Well, this is one of the longer pieces on the Spotlight. Let’s wrap up the three final pieces. ‘Toil’ is a surprisingly infectious song, residing in familiar territory, but welcoming territory at that. ‘Fall’ offers an instrumental composition with a stark contrast to its predecessors, mainly due to its acoustic-guitar driven nature rather than pianos, and finally, ‘Songdown’ closes out the album with one of the more fulfilling acoustic songwriting endeavors of this year in the indie scene.

This is truly a terrific record - From beginning to end, Voice in the Attic proves itself a versatile act with a variety of absolutely breathtaking sounds. In particular, ‘Glass,’ ‘Tear,’ ‘and Rhinoceri’ are the highlight reel. That’s a highlight reel of a masterful piece, even one of the very best in the scene this year... so don’t just listen to those three. Go into it all. It’s worth every second.