It is refreshing, in this land of musical and technological advances, to come across a band that sticks to the basics. Refusing to fall in to the trap of machinery and far out electronic manipulation, Calgary, Alberta’s Open Air have respectfully nailed old school hard rock and its ethics down to a T.
Their recently released sophomore EP aptly titled Extended Play, is energetic, hard, and effective, leaving the listener hungry for more.
It begins with an intro called, well, “intro” and it’s a neat little airy entry point that transports you to trippy rock landscapes of days past. This immediately leads into “Snake Charmer”, which reminded me right away of Zeppelin with a Soundgarden thrown in for modern times sake.
In an EP full of dynamos, “Preacher Man” takes the title for diversity. Opening with a tinkling of keyboard and then the line “And I still feel the reverb even though Blue Oyster Cult told me not to…” from there it kicks right in to a monster cut that sounds a bit like STP’s “Dead & Bloated” in form. The gentle keyboard intro is what really makes this tune fly though. You think you’re in for a chill ride and then the song just explodes all over the place, just like good hard rock is supposed to do.
Vocalist Steven Mansfield’s vocal delivery is pretty massive and he keeps nose to nose with the energy of the music surrounding him, which is a task because the music is pretty big, and with the addition of second guitarist Garret Greenhall, Open Air is now fuller and more rockin’ than before.
With influences reading like a who’s who of rock Godliness, taking bits of it all and making it their own, Open Air sound like Brit rock and grunge holding court with glam rock while dirty metal keeps them all in check. It’s musical alchemy like this that totally works and will solidify their spot as one of Calgary’s best new emerging bands.
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