EVOLUTION: -noun 1. any process of formation or growth; development
2. a product of such development; something evolved.........
People always ask ‘What’s in a name?’, sometimes it’s everything. If you’ve been around the site in any regularity over the last few months, you’ve heard and seen Mindset Evolution in action. When we first came across them last year, we were impressed with the first album they sent our way, “Taking Back Today”. It was a solid record cover to cover, but a year is a long time to grow, develop, and evolve. One thing you often don’t get a chance to see in the modern rock world is how hard a band works its ass off to find itself and the unique thing that makes them the music force that they set out to be. By the time bands hit your radio, they’ve gone through this, you missed it because the labels don’t want you to see it. Rocksposure set out to find bands on that path, and we’ve heard some great ones, having the chance to see it first hand is beyond a privilege. It’s incredible to see the results of a collective effort as a band begins to fine tune their machine and get deeper, stronger, and set in their own identity. We’ve been fortunate enough to see it happen right before our eyes. That’s Mindset Evolution. That’s our June 2011 Artist of the Month.
When we first met Mindset Evolution last Summer, they sent us a copy of their second album “Taking Back Today” (Read the Review here). The powerful album featured songs ranging from the driving tempo of “Wait Steady” to the ballad “Drowning in Make Believe”. When the band shared on our Podcast a few weeks back that their new album was almost finished, we couldn't wait to hear what the guys from Peoria, IL were able to come up with. The result of their collective effort is “Prelude”, an album that surpasses the previous effort on every level. It’s deeper lyrically, it’s cleaner musically, and is produced remarkably. All while building in the signature sound that is Mindset Evolution.
If you’ve never seen them live, the first thing you need to know about Mindset Evolution is that they bring a serious level of energy to every show (If you haven’t, click here and we’ll prove it). “Prelude” carries this energy as if you’re at the show in person. The fast paced rock songs like “Say It”, “Clever”, and “Lullaby” jump off the album and assault your speakers in a way that only Mindset can. “Lullaby” embodies some small electronic nuances to add some flavor to the bass line that Josh Bodeen carries the song with. On a few occasions throughout the song everything pauses, except for Bodeen’s bass which hangs for a few additional notes. These brief pauses leave you waiting for the song to kick back in, especially, with the three extra thumps on the bass building anticipation as you wait to see how heavily they are going to bounce back at you.
In what may be one of the hardest rocking songs we’ve ever heard from Mindset Evolution, “Relevant” is another one that carries the band’s stage presence to your car’s CD player. Brad Prentice’s guitar playing is in your face from the minute the track drops all the way through the quick solo that brings it home. It’s the edgy track that we have come to look forward to on every Mindset Evolution album. As it proudly holds this title for “Prelude”, “Relevant” is without a doubt three of the best minutes of hard rock we’ve heard in 2011.
The beauty of an album from Mindset Evolution is that they rock hard but aren’t shy about slowing the tempo down for some solid ballads. “Leaving” and “Natural” both showcase the depth that we’ve come to know for these guys. Trading in the aggressive guitar for an acoustic, or a piano accompaniment is a drastic change from a few of the earlier mentioned songs on the album; but, it genuinely works and compliments their strong song writing on this album. Lead singer Rob Ulrich uses the opportunity to showcase that his voice can endure the versatility of a scream and smoothly transition all the way to more of a serenading role.
Rocksposure loved “Taking Back Today”, but another great example of “Prelude” being at the next level are the re-engineered tracks “Soapbox Jester” and “These Days” What were good songs before have come out from the other side of the filter as great songs that have matured with time. The guitar solos and vocals are cleaner and more direct so you don’t find the filler that was previously there. Having previously been two of our favorite Mindset songs, we're happy to say that the extra time in the studio did them well.
Mindset Evolution has made huge strides on this album from every angle possible, but nothing defines the progress the band has made like “Ghosts”. This song is an impeccable piece of music as it simply plays at another level from everything else we’ve heard from Mindset Evolution. Through the tempo changes and soaring keyboards in the background, the story of “Ghosts” is as ingrained musically as it is throughout its well written lyrics. “Ghosts” is a song about dealing with the reality that the big dreams based on the hope we were promised in our youth isn’t necessarily the cake walk or fairy tale it was cracked up to be; let alone dealing with the challenge of choosing the right path through the trouble you’re now dealt. As Ulrich struggles with the realization of ‘Ever After’ not being what he imagined, he sings “They somewhere convinced us all, swallow stars and we'll shine as brightly so”, you will relate to this song lyrically regardless of what challenge you personally apply to it. You’ve fallen short, it’s harder than what they said it will be, and now it’s time to deal with it because the mystical saving grace you were promised isn’t coming. I’ve listened to music my entire life chasing the undying hope of coming across the rare song that consumes you to the point of warranting infinite repeats to fully take it in to appreciate every word, note, and meaning. “Ghosts” officially falls into that category, suffice to say it joins pretty elite company.
The unfortunate part of evolution is that change is inevitable, even when it seems that you are hitting your stride better than you ever have in the past. Some changes make you stronger, others leave a void. Mindset Evolution won’t be able to escape the challenge of change as “Prelude” will be the swan song for drummer Josh Blue. No creative differences, no dramatic showdown, Blue just had to put his dream on hold to put his family first. Given the shining performance that he put on for “Prelude”, Mindset faces one of the largest challenges in the evolution of their band. But before they do, Josh Blue will play his last show with the band as they open for Bad City, Seether, Sick Puppies, and Hinder in Peoria, IL on June 10th. Based on the path they’ve traveled, while they’ll have heavy hearts to see Blue move on, I have no doubt they’ll be up to the task of continuing to take the next step. They’ve just worked too hard, they’ll find a way to evolve again.
Click here for more from Mindset Evolution
As the Webmaster and Founder of Rocksposure.com, Chris Brach is always looking for new music from up and coming rock bands. You never know, they could be our next Artist of the Month! If there is something you think he should give a listen to, email him at GetRocked@Rocksposure.com