100 Bands You Need To Know In 2015: Issue #321
+ Feature by Ian Benson
When you name your band Anakin, science fiction is bound to be an influence. "I'm pretty obsessed with space and UFO conspiracies," admits Brad Chancellor, who also cops to loving both the Star Wars series and 2001: A Space Odyssey. "My dad actually claims to have seen a UFO when I was young. I guess that's where the obsession is from." The San Diego band blend these influences with noted sonic touchstones including HUM's gigantic space-rock sounds and melodies reminiscent of Weezer's 'Blue' album on their No Sleep Records debut, Celestial Frequency Shifter. On "Satellite", layers of fuzzy guitars, synths and drums bolster Jonathan Wessel's clear vocals to create a melodic wall of noise in classic shoegaze tradition.
+ Feature by Andee Connors
Anakin broadcast their latest blast of hook heavy, fuzz drenched guitar rock from a sonic space station drifting through the stratosphere, employing their Celestial Frequency Shifter to beam smart pop hooks, shoegazey guitar crunch and swirling, spaced out synths into the ears of earthbound stargazers who dig the likes of Hum, Failure, Weezer and Smashing Pumpkins.
+ Review by James Hingle
Did you know Luke Skywalker's dad was in a band? No? Well Anakin's music says he was, and he liked early Weezer, with an added Smashing Pumpkins distortion. Among the jangly-yet-rustic guitars is a celestial ambience that creates a shoegazey arc to the record. But beneath this all is a voice that will soothe the senses, with frontman Jonathan Wessel employing a whisperlike tone to lull you into a galazy far, far away. "Clairvoyance" shines brightest here, exploding with pure sonic might, while the thick fuzz throughout is nectar for guitar geeks everywhere. Anakin, the Force is strong with you.
+ Premiere by Scott Heisel
Formed in 2010, San Diego-based quartet Anakin has always worn their influences on their sleeve. The band frequently points to early Weezer and the Rentals on the pop side and Hum and Failure on the rock side, and their original material resonates with that exciting mixture. Another group that immediately jumps out as a sonic touchstone is Smashing Pumpkins, so it should come as no surprise that the band chose to cover their song "Rocket" from 1993’s Siamese Dream.
+ Feature by RJ Frometa
Anakin’s brilliant, buzzing guitar/synth combo is striking a chord with fans and critics alike. Inspired by bands like Weezer, Hum and Failure, the band crafts rich, warm riffs and melodies that overflow with euphonic crescendos as heard on tracks like "Artificial" and "Satellite".
+ Review by Catherine Yi
On Anakin’s new album, Celestial Frequency Shifter, the band combines their love of 90’s alternative music with allusions to space and technology to compose something incredibly unique in their genre. What’s most impressive is that Anakin has managed to do all of this without coming off as tacky. While the lyrics are written from a personal standpoint, if Star Wars were ever converted into a rock opera, this would be the soundtrack.
Opener "Astro[not]" sonically ejects us into the great expanse of space with Jonathan Wessel’s airy vocals, grungy guitar chords, and a playful synthesizer riff. In an interview, drummer and songwriter Brad Chancellor said that if he could buy just one song, it would be "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins, and you can hear that quintessential 90’s song mirrored throughout this record. "Lucidity" begins with a poppy melodic guitar line intertwined with synths and Wessel cranking up the Billy Corgan resemblance even more by singing in a higher range.
Chancellor’s subtle storytelling is what truly shines on the album, paying homage to his love of sci-fi, especially the beloved series his band is named after. The murky vocal layers on "Lucidity" repeating 'Don’t leave this dream' under the lead vocal singing 'Say goodnight / Say goodbye,' forming a haunting duet of that pivotal scene in Episode III when Padme asks Anakin to run away with her and he strangles her in return. And in "Ctrl.Alt.Del.," Chancellor somehow drops the infamous line 'These aren’t the droids you’ve been looking for' without feeling gimmicky at all.
Celestial Frequency Shifter is a smart, well-written rock record about space; proof that you can completely nerd out over your passions and still be taken seriously. In all my years of scouring music blogs for new music, I’ve never heard of anything like Anakin.