Formed during the breakup of the alt-rock band Toast, ex-bassist Shaun Courbat and ex-guitarist/songwriter Frank Hansen partnered with veteran drummer Skip Lowe to form the The Blue Danes. The Blue Danes recently released their debut album, “Invisible and Untouchable”, Produced by Grammy nominated producer and engineer, Tom Tatman (Stone Sour).
Why The Danes isn’t more highly regarded, and rewarded, remains a mystery to me…I thought, while listening to this 13 track album. Then I off course remembered that this album was a debut release. It’s just that they sound so smooth and professional, as if they have been playing together for twenty years already!
“Invisible and Untouchable” is pure goodness, full of palpable emotion and beautiful melody. It is filled with subtle sounds, nuances and minimal music sequences that has expanded the band’s creativity options and will propel them and those that follow into a new future.
The background vocals and group harmonies are like we never hear on any other releases anymore; a wakeup call to their capabilities which are simply astounding. The key to all this is that you need to listen on quality audio equipment to hear what has been masterfully conceived here. Currently, this shouldn’t pose a problem for most, right?
The characteristic that differentiates a truly great band from an average one is its ability to innovate and musically move in a different direction when the time is right. All the great bands do this. It’s what makes them stand out from the pack.
So The Blue Danes have released their debut album totally against the grain of dissonant, discordant and anthemic blabber that has been invading the marketplace in recent years. Making a truly brilliant album, that is mesmerizing and haunting – the layering of the enveloping background sounds, the gentle but intense rhythms, and the lead melody, is truly inspiring on several of the tracks and demonstrate the quality of musicianship the Danes possess.
“Invisible and Untouchable” is a beautiful album that strips away all the excessive layers of over-compressed modern music production, and gets back to the basics of delivering organic arrangements that are dynamic, subtle and lush. Strings and pianos abound, as does both acoustic and electric guitars, and a classic sounding studio-room drum kit, which kicks off the album perfectly in high-energy style on “We Bond As Killers”.
One of the reasons I like this music is that I’m always in search of authenticity, especially in songwriting, and quickly found that on the second track entitled “Wings”. I personally feel that The Blue Danes are at their mesmerizing best on the slower to mid tempo songs.
This is where they are able to fully develop the melody and harmony naturally embedded into their music. This is also where the lead vocals connect best to the emotional content creating an ongoing empathy with the listener.
Therefore my absolute favorites have to include “Black And Blue Blonde”, “Remember”, “Walls Are Collapsing”, “Fade” and “Beautiful And Sad”. There is something about these lusciously layered and languid orchestrations make these delicious sounds reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s quieter introspective moments, or even those of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. It’s all about atmosphere, tone and texture. Of course it helps that the album is brilliantly crafted and meticulously produced.
Moreover, in my opinion, groups like The Blue Danes raise the bar on popular music with authenticity, quality and accessibility. They totally transcend genres, their sound can be simply called music, but unique in the throwaway digital era. They make the art of songwriting their own and play by their own terms.
They have refined their craft here with perfect chord progressions, flawless instrumentation and impressive vocal arrangements that will leave you enamored long after the final chord has been played. “Invisible and Untouchable” is a masterpiece of popular music perfection!