With what seems to be limitless imagination and creativity, The Ongoing Concept have created yet another masterpiece
The Ongoing Concept. It isn’t really just a band name, is it? It’s more of a philosophy, and one that could easily be applied to so many different aspects of ones day to day life, their thought process, how one creates or applies themselves, and of course with music. Now this all seems to be exhaustively complex, but in truth, it’s beautifully simplistic. Things are always changing and to be able to adapt and “go with the flow” as they say, truly helps to define what The Ongoing Concept could mean aside from a musical acts moniker. The group has taken this philosophy and turned it into a wondrous and limitless endeavor, that shines in a phenomenal way through on each and every piece of art they create.
It would be almost impossible to slap a particular genre tag on them, what with the constant mash up of the “standard” rock’n’roll instruments (guitar, bass, drums…duh), with less conventional ones (such as harmonicas, keyboards, trombones, etc). They even take it as far as creating their own instruments (featured on the aptly titled album, Handmade). It is rare to see a group of young men so invested in their craft, that with each and every release they invent something so different from the last. And that brings us to The Ongoing Concept‘s latest Frankenstein (if you will…), Places. Places overall message is plain and (yes, beautifully) simple; We all go through struggles and hardships in our lives, but it’s what we do with what we’ve learnt from said experiences, that can make us who we’ll become.
The album begins with its self titled intro, “Places”. It starts off calm and quiet, but crescendos into harmonious and ambient sounds layered with a jazzy sounding guitar. Almost a perfect way in which to help the listener reflect on all of the places they’ve been. All the things they’ve seen and done. And one can’t help but wonder, ‘What have these experiences taught me? Who have I become because of them?’
The intro transitions perfectly into the first full song/second single released from the album, “You Will go” (see what they did there?). One thing (among many) The Ongoing Concept has always had going for them is not only their inexplicable ability to do insanely amazing things with all types of instruments, but also their incredibly talented writing abilities with their lyrics. One stand out line from this track goes as follows: ‘The places you have been made you who you are. You can make a difference now. The places you will go make you who you will become’. This is one of those great moments where you can take your own meaning from this and apply to anything in your life where it makes sense. We have all lived and experienced and at some point that made us into the person that stood before the rest. Now whether that’s a good or bad thing is your choice to make and where you can go from there will dictate the new path, with new experiences and the person you will then be. For fans of their older material, take notice the awesome Easter eggs to past ‘places’ The Ongoing Concept has been. Such as a real life version of the saloon from the album cover of their debut album, Saloon, as well as cameos from some familiar family members (including Papa Sholz, also featured on the album cover alongside Dawson).
“Shake It” seems to focus on said ‘experiences’ from the last paragraph. So many go through life facing trial after tribulation, but do nothing to change it up. To take advantage. If there’s one thing that many should learn in life, it’s to never be that complacent. You have to take advantage of every moment. Live your life to the fullest, so you can one day look back and know it was a life worth living. You have to “Shake It” up.
“The Print” was the first single released from the album, and this was the most absolute perfect re-introduction for fans of old and most could consider the perfect first time listen for any new fans alike. It had the perfect elements of that groove laden, almost southern rock’n’roll style the group kills with ease. For any fans that had been with the group since the beginning, they would recognize this immediately, yet it would feel far from stale or played out. The chorus is almost perfectly reflective of this sentiment. ‘Oh, I’m away from home, Nobody knows where I’m gonna go. Oh, I’m away from home, but I gotta keep it super simple.’ Almost as if to say; we will always strive to reach new feats, yet never forget the roots from which we came.
“Bargain” brings us the always exquisite “softer” (or at times acoustic) track heard on each The Ongoing Concept release. Although each album has this one song, don’t for a second make the mistake that they ever sound even close to similar. This song oozes emotion with its underlying, yet prevalent piano play, an almost delicate rattle of the drums, and guitar that soars like a solo throughout the track. A concept that one could take from this song is this; Life hands you a shit ton of experiences throughout your entire existence (“Places You Will Go”), but it’s what YOU do with said experiences that truly reveals whether you actually played your part or not. ‘I don’t know if I am, keeping my end of the bargain.’ Vocalist Dawson Sholz shines in a glorious way on this track. His singing has always been phenomenal, but one couldn’t help but notice his talents have risen even further with “Bargain”.
“Punisher” is truly a stand out on this latest record. A song about standing on ones own and being able to handle and defend yourself against all that could be thrown at you in your life ahead. Such a strong and valuable message, over what most would consider such an upbeat, groovy, almost dance-able arrangement. Perhaps that’s absolutely perfect though. Some people feel their most absolute bravest and strongest when feeling happy. The tougher instrumental elements of the track could reflect how people can feel when tested. All in all a super fun listen, with a stellar lyrical lesson.
It is insanely difficult to continuously evolve yourself and your craft. Whether you’re a hockey player, a builder, a writer or a musician, it’s sometimes the most difficult thing to break the mold from which you’re used to following and begin anew. Yet The Ongoing Concept seem to pull this off with absolute ease, though I’m sure that couldn’t be further from the truth. Once again with Places, the group has seemingly reinvented themselves all the while remaining true to who and what they are. This record is riddled with lessons, that may be a bit more personal to each member and yet could be adapted to fit your own life as well. That’s the beauty of music and a sentiment that The Ongoing Concept always has (and I’m sure always will) do their best to emulate with their music. This record is fun, thought provoking and an exemplary case of true, raw talent and creativity. You would be absolutely remiss if you did not give it a proper listen. Do not make that mistake. Sit down, take your time, and listen close. You just may formulate your own ongoing concepts.
The Breakdown | Album Review: The Ongoing Concept – Places
The Ongoing Concept will always be on the forefront of originality. With each release they bring something new to the table, and it’s no different with Places. Once again the group takes the listener on a musical journey of wonder and amazement, all while delivering poetic, yet strong messages.