I initially heard about Agent Cooper’s album, Far From Sleep, during my first interview for Better B# over two years ago. During what turned out to be an incredibly long, but fun, talk with Cooper guitarist, Mike Martin, he told me about the work in progress. The group had recently returned from a European tour with Tony MacAlpine and had already released a six-song EP called From The Ashes. Almost 2 years later, during this last Summer, the fabled full-length was released right under my nose. Under most peoples’ noses, as it turns out! But I felt that I should take a moment to reflect on this previously only whispered about affair, and give great music a chance to catch some ears.
For those who are familiar with the EP From The Ashes, you may be saddened to find that Far From Sleep consists of the songs from that short adventure with a few more tracks thrown in for good measure. I, myself, was a bit disappointed to find that I wasn’t going to be treated to a completely new full-course meal for my auditory appetite. However, this just means that if you’ve already bought the original EP, the full album will only run you a few dollars more. And if you’re one of those fortunate souls just now discovering the joys of Agent Cooper, you’ll be happy to have arrived just in time for that full-course meal I was talking about a moment ago.
Far From Sleep is a dramatic, dynamic album that boils over with talent and catchiness. From the beginning, it hits the ground running with its harmonized vocal proclamation: “We are power!” before steamrolling over you with energy that brings a smile to your face and pushes your foot to the floorboard. The next two tracks, “Tornado Dreams” and “The Stand,” are sure to cement the belief that you’re dealing with no ordinary band, but some sort of musical love-child between Rush and Boston. This is a wonderful blend of rock n’ roll attitude and progressive elements that just go well together. Not only that, but vocalist Doug Busbee emits a voice that is as unique and gripping as any you’ve heard. It cascades over the music and carries you along through emotional highs and lows, with the help of roaring bass lines, magical guitar solos, and organ solos that, well…face it, you didn’t expect to get swept off your feet by an organ solo.
By the end of this release, I found myself not only with a smile upon my face, but with a small sense of wonder as well. There’s something grand about this listening experience. There is an air of lightness to much of the music, such as the song “Mother,” which puts you at ease. Others, like the closing number, “Misunderstood,” touch on subject matter with a level of depth that is too often glossed over by musicians, without making it heavy and burdensome for the listener. Agent Cooper know just when to let you linger and when to pull you in and Far From Sleep never lets you linger too long. I just hope the band takes that to heart and pulls us in with another release sooner than later.
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