Bristler – ‘Cascades at Play’

The debut album from Asbury Park-based rockers Bristler, Cascades at Play impresses with a melodic sound touting both lush soundscapes and erupting doses of emotion. The project arose from singer/guitarist Rudy Meier, whose previous band Wetbrain dissolved during the pandemic, and gave rise to Bristler. Members of the band Yawn Mower joined the project, with drummer Biff Swenson and bassist Dan Yurcisin adding their talents. Cascades at Play was entirely recorded and produced by Meier in his bedroom, and the result thoroughly impresses with a range of hooky, momentum-filled songwriting.

Opening track “Mirror Image” commences with glistening guitar trickles, easing into the dexterous rhythmic intensity and climactic atmospherics on “Jaguar Rock.” Lush vocals emerge with seamless cohesion, compelling alongside gentle guitar chimes and steady rhythmic intensity — into a bursting textural array at mid-point. The album begins strongly, and that continues with “Counterclockwise,” hooky and blissful with its dreamy vocal affections and self-introspective “yet to meet myself,” vocal escalation.

Bustling rhythmics and ethereal vocals star on “Skipping Rock,” another melodic success, while “Tiny Little Pieces” unveils a more contemplative flow with subdued vocal hypnotics amidst glimmering, aquatic synths. “Bank Robber” shifts into a darker initial foreboding, though quickly ascending to a chipper demeanor with the spirited guitar spurts alongside the murmuring bass and drums. The album’s mid-point is especially exemplary of Bristler’s dynamic tonal range, with “Bank Robber” itself stirring in that sense, between its excitable guitar spurts and tranquil backing components.

Prior to the moody finale “Test Your Water” comes one of the album’s standouts in “Lowlife,” a gripping, angst-y rocker that infectiously explores a sense of discontentment within a suburbia nightmare — and concluding with a dazed, psych-friendly enamoring. “Building our own house in a cute little town, where I walk around, until I finally decide I should blow my brains out,” the steady vocals let out into an erupting ferocity. Gripping momentum arises via the serene vocals trickling guitars, exemplary of the strong quality displayed throughout Cascades at Play.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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