Artur U & the New City Limits

CD Review: ‘Holiday From Eternity’ by Artur U & the New City Limits

in Music by

Style: Alternative, Rock, Pop

Released: February 27, 2015

Reviewed by Randy Radic

In Finland, rock music is called suomirock or Finsrock and, unfortunately, few Finnish bands enjoy success in America. Probably because most Finnish rock bands rely heavily on potent keyboards, and thrashing guitars. Apparently, in Finland, the fine art adage “if you can’t make it good, make it big,” has been adopted as the primary precept of rock music: if you can’t make it good, make it loud.

The band consists of Artur U on vocals and steel guitar; Johanna Saarinen on vocals and percussion; Tuomas Orasmaa on the keyboards; Miika Suomalainen on bass; and Toni Mantyla on drums. The band has replaced the thrashing guitars with a steel guitar, added layering and vocal harmony. They kept the keyboards.

Regrettably, the band’s endeavor falls short, although there is a certain arcane energy to the music. Still, a number of elements are out of balance. First, the band puts too much emphasis on the keyboards, like every other Scandinavian band. Second, the steel guitar just doesn’t cut it as a rock n’ roll instrument. It’s fine for Country Western music, where its familiar crying twang provides accentuation. But it strains all tolerance as a lead instrument, simply because it sounds artificial. And third, the band’s vocalists, in a content-free a way as possible, have given an entirely new paradigm to the meaning of the word ‘harmony.’

Artur U’s voice is akin to the singing of a great pale beast of the sea as it attempts to harmonize with the breathless hyper-feminine voice of Johanna Saarinen. The result is two tinny voices singing an emotionless, monotonous roundelay.

Of the ten tracks on the album, two have been identified as winners. “On A Holiday” is the band’s lead single. Imagine Alice In Chains performing King Crimson with weak voices, an overload of fuzzbox and a steel guitar. And lots of heavy layering. It’s a psychedelic nightmare.

The other track, called “Monkey House,” dredges up mental images of Pink Floyd covering a song by Humble Pie. Repetitive lyrics, along with wimpy vocals and a melody paralyzed by indecision provide a grim, barely endurable listening experience.

Holiday From Eternity is more like the musical version of Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation than a holiday. Artur U & the New City Limits, although they get an ‘A’ for effort, is relegated to suomirock mediocrity.

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