We last heard from Washington, DC area rock band Round About back in 2018 with their release of Coming Into Focus. On that project we found their sound to be “Oft gentle, smooth and acoustic; at times funky, electric and bluesy“, and in the over three years since, it feels as though the band has doubled down on their commitment to those elements within their recognizable pop-rock foundation.
Contributing to the project are the band’s four core members Patrick Garrity (vocals, backing vocal, acoustic & electric rhythm guitar, bass), Aaron Lowenberger (lead guitar, vocals), Dave Mehring (bass, vocals), and Phil Raino (drums), alongside featured guests Mark Bower (organ) and Michael Clem (harmonica). Their fourth studio album Inner Voices & Curious Choices premiered 2/4/2022, and it is an exquisite showing of the band’s growth and deepened connection while further defining the sound they thrive within.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
Inner Voices & Curious Choices begins strongly with The Blind Lead The Blind. Garrity’s soft, textured vocal is immediately recognizable, backed by thoughtful guitar melodies and a driving rhythm section that brings back memories of the ’90s influence noted on their previous album (though it can be argued that the monster of a guitar solo at 2:49 from Lowenberger is the high point of this opening track).
Upbeat and a touch funky, Better With Time features vocals from bassist Mehring – a starkly different timbre than what Garrity possesses, but his bright, clear tone fits comfortably within the instrumentation just the same. This track is relaxed at its core, with a sunny disposition and a feel-good beat that makes this an instant earworm.
Bringing in a bluesy, prog-rock influence is Menagerie, this time sung by Lowenberger. There’s something compelling about a band that can seamlessly transition from one vocalist to the next – it’s perhaps the most difficult position to pass around. The Round About crew not only has no problem sharing that spotlight, but artistically the vocalist chosen for each track seems to be the best suited for the song at hand. In Menagerie, for example, we find a dark, foreboding tale about a dangerous, manipulative woman, and Lowenberger’s vocals have a precise, melodic quality to them that helps bring the story to the forefront above the sultry blues-rock arrangement. It’s an early example of some of the quality, contemplative lyric writing on display across this album as well – the term accessible still coming immediately to mind as it did on their last release:
“She’s a collector she’s a connoisseur
Always wanting something more
Never finding what she needs
With a heart that’s iron to the core
She’ll leave you lying on the floor
And never really let you free “
The interesting vocal harmonies on In Between are an immediate stand-out, creating a sound that’s highly reminiscent of The Beatles’ more boundary-pushing material at the start. This psychedelic-tinged tone of the intro permeates sections of the track throughout, even as it opens up into something more driving and modern-rock-focused. By the song’s peak, we’re riding an electric, powerful wave of sound, before settling gently back into the softer introductory rhythm. It’s a rollercoaster of a track that does an excellent job of building suspense and blending fairly dissimilar genres into something captivating and balanced.
We also love the introspective messaging in Course Correction. One of the album’s softer moments with plenty of acoustic highlights, the smooth sing-song harmonies and electric guitar swells almost seem to imitate the sounds of a ship at sea, as Garrity muses on turning back the clock and sailing into uncharted waters:
“So if you could get it right
Would you give up your current life
For a past you could rewrite, for perfection
A course correction”
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
The expert harmonica from Clem on A Single Kiss moves the album several steps closer to an Americana sound than expected. Though it’s not the only track on the album with an acoustic foundation, this one gets closer to a folky sound than the rest – but this unexpected genre shift still feels like a natural inclusion on the project. It’s one part twang, one part soft-modern-rock, and one part expertly written song, featuring a strong showing of those insightful lyrics we mentioned earlier:
“Some things ain’t meant to be
Warning signs are never guaranteed
Hearts are being broken every day
Intentional, or life gets in the way”
Top it off with the relatable “what-if” love story, and this track is a true highlight of the album, from performance to production.
Endlessly emotive, thoughtfully produced, and brimming with cohesivity – Inner Voices & Curious Choices is without a doubt the strongest release from Round About to date. This music is deeply consumable in the best way, endlessly easy to listen to but never predictable, never boring. It’s an impressive blending of genres by musicians who understand each other’s strengths and play off of them in an expert way. Fans of music well outside the pop-rock space will be able to appreciate the combination of earned experience and raw skill that has gone into the making of this stellar project.
BELOW: Check out our full artist interview with Patrick Garrity of Round About, listen to Inner Voices & Curious Choices, connect with their website and social media platforms, and find their booking & contact information. Please support Round About by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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Check out our interview with PATRICK GARRITY of ROUND ABOUT:
Follow, stream, download & connect with ROUND ABOUT online:
Listen to INNER VOICES & CURIOUS CHOICES by ROUND ABOUT:
Booking & contact information for ROUND ABOUT:
Contact: Patrick Garrity