The new alternative-rock project, Head Shadow, brought to life by multi-instrumentalist Bryan Stacks, releases their debut 10-track album entitled 'The Future is Fiction.'
Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bryan Stacks has been a frequent collaborator in his 20+ year-long music career, which led him to create Head Shadow and stretch out creatively without boundaries or conventions. Bryan Stacks handles each individual instrument while enlisting a cast of incredible vocalists alongside drummers Ryan Elwood and Rory Reagan. Now releasing their debut full-length album, 'The Future is Fiction,' let's dive right in and digest this thrilling venture.
The album kicks off with the introductory track, "Unsteady (feat. Ken Stringfellow)," which opens with a cinematic alternative instrumental and quickly drops into the first verse. As Ken Stringfellow's raspy and powerful vocals begin to sweetly serenade us with nothing but emotion and heart, he brings us through scenes of feeling unsteady about the future in a certain relationship. Bryan Stacks' crunchy electric guitars and dizzying synth melodies alongside Elwood and Reagan's punchy drum breaks make for a highly engaging and captivating experience.
Moving onto track number two, "Deconstruct You (feat. Chris Thomas)," the song opens with a hazy and reverbed electric guitar alongside a spinning and ominous synth. As the crisp drum breaks begin to pound through our speakers alongside Chris Thomas' haunting and mysterious vocal delivery, Head Shadow transports us into this powerhouse, gritty, and energetic banger. We adore the intense and striking instrumental landscape that Bryan Stacks has painted, as it's as dense and exhilarating as Chris Thomas' sultry and alluring performance.
Slowing it down with the next track, "Rhetorical Answer (feat. Adrienne Osborne)," the song takes off with a delayed electric guitar, midtempo drum breaks, and a haunting bass line. As Adrienne Osbourne's soft and breathy vocals begin to melt through our speakers, she begins to enlighten us on her confusion in a relationship and wonders if she'll ever figure it out. We love this song's tender and nostalgic feel, as it reminds us of staple pop songs from the early 00s. On the bridge, Stacks' crunchy and riveting electric guitar spikes the song's energy just enough to carry it to the glimmering outro.
Stomping through our speakers is the next track, "Unmask (feat. Arehlai)," that begins with an unconventional and hard-hitting guitar arrangement alongside the thumping drum breaks. Arehlai later makes her sultry and mysterious vocal appearance to spice the song's energy and eerie atmosphere. We can't get enough of the jagged and raw instrumentals that bring us nothing but vitality and energy. Not to mention Arehlai's stimulating vocal performance; her broad vocal range and altitude are enough to bring us to our knees. Stacks has truly mastered the ability to create individually dynamic and memorable pieces.
Reaching the album's halfway point with "Ever Elusive (feat. Ken Stringfellow)," the song gently opens with a soothing keyboard melody and accompanying piano chords. As a haunting organ begins to shine in from the background, we drop into the first verse with vocalist Ken Stringfellow. We adore Stringfellow's ability to bring us into the complex lyrical themes with his passionate performance and emotional tones, as it leaves us floating through the celestials alongside Stacks' soothing instrumentals. Not to mention Elwood's emotional and downtempo drums; they perfectly round out the song to create a deeply emotional edge.
Hitting play on track number six, "Lemon Black Sky (feat. Arehlai)," we're met with a spooky sonic landscape through a reverbed and plucky electric guitar and airy downtempo drum breaks. As Arehlai begins to serenade us with her melancholy and haunting tones, another wailing electric guitar begins to pierce through our speakers alongside a tender piano melody. We're thoroughly impressed with Arehlai's chilling and ghostly vocal portrayal, as it perfectly enhances Stacks' dense instrumentals, especially as they transition into a more powerful and robust sonic atmosphere on the outro.
Continuing the emotion with the next song, "Fire (feat. Adrienne Osborn)," we're met with a gloomy electric guitar melody alongside a sparkling keyboard melody and mid-tempo drum breaks. Once we reacquaint ourselves with Osbourne's soothing and airy vocal stylings, she sings a deeply reflective and introspective story while moving into a more uplifting and almost cathartic hook. We love Stacks' ability to tell an instrumental story; as Osbourne sings of someone setting a fire in her heart, Stacks perfectly backs up that sensation with his dynamic and exhilarating alt-rock instrumentals.
Blasting into the next track, "Unintentional Consequences of the Motivational Quote (feat. Arehlai)," the track takes off with a powerhouse instrumental that scorches through our speakers with a dizzying organ, stomping drum breaks, and beaming electric guitars. As Arehlai makes her way in, listeners are able to introduce themselves to a more uplifting and exciting Arehlai as she belts her powerful vocals over Stacks' gripping instrumentals. This track has to be the brightest point of the album, as it leaves us nodding our heads and grooving away with the melodic instrumentals alongside Arehlai's invigorating performance.
Jumping through our speakers is the next track, "Merge (feat. Arehlai)," where Arehlai and her magnetic vocals serenade us with another reflective and emotional lyrical theme. Alongside Stacks' haunting piano melodies and beaming electric guitar melodies, Elwood pours his hefty drums over our speakers to enhance the song's emotion and power. We're head over heels for the song's haunting allure, especially as Arehlai breaks free from the chains and belts her savory vocals near the outro. As Stacks reenters the song with his twinkling guitar solo, the song ends on a brighter, more emotional, and personal note.
Landing on the album's outro track with "Flare (feat. Ken Stringfellow)," the track opens with more of a feel-good tone through warm piano melodies, soft shakers, and faint electric guitar melodies. Ken Stringfellow closes the project with his chilling and soothing vocal stylings that tell an emotional story of a one-sided relationship. We appreciate how Stacks created such dynamic instrumentals throughout the album, as this song's delicate, emotional, and tender feel is the perfect way to close the jam-packed project. As the delicate instrumentals continue to pour through our speakers, they make their way to the outro with nothing but hope and passion.
We're more than impressed with the outcome of Head Shadow's debut album, 'The Future is Fiction,' and we encourage you to experience the dynamic range and soul that the project has to offer. Find Head Shadow's 'The Future is Fiction' on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMysic Head Shadow, and congratulations on the release of your dynamic debut album, 'The Future is Fiction.' When did you begin writing lyrics and melodies for this project? How long was it in the making?
Thank you! I've had the idea of this album for several years so when my calendar was suddenly wiped clean in March of last year I ran out of excuses not to commit to the project. Aside from two previously written songs, the entire album was written, recorded, mixed, and mastered from the span of March 2020 through August 2021.
Was there a particular concept or theme that you wanted to get across with your album, 'The Future is Fiction?'
I would say that the running theme throughout is the constant search for inspiration amidst the constant battle against anxiety. My take on the phrase, "The Future is Fiction" is that the future might as well be fiction from the vantage point of the present. We might have a pretty good idea of what tomorrow looks like but who's to say? This observation for me is used to reduce anxiety about the future, live in the moment, and make peace with uncertainty. These ideas run throughout most of the songs.
What was it like working with the various vocalists for 'The Future is Fiction?' Did your vocalists write their own lyrics, or was this a collaborative process?
Working with different vocalists was always a key ingredient to the concept of this album. I wrote music and lyrics for each of the songs. That said there is some tweaking of phrases, words, etc. that each singer brings to the table. This was most significant in working with Ken Stringfellow on "Ever Elusive" in that the changes he brought to some of the words, phrasing, and even the tempo of melody vastly improved my original idea. So I would have to give him a co-writing credit on the lyrics to that song. Working with all of these singers was a dream come true for me, and something that will continue on future releases from Head Shadow.
What did you want to make your audience feel and think after listening to 'The Future is Fiction?' What did you want them to take away from this project?
Musically I hope it's a journey of peaks and valleys throughout the ten songs. This is hopefully served by the use of different singers and styles. I don't love when songs on an album sound too similar from track to track, so hopefully, I avoided that, haha. In theme, I hope the listener keys in on that little light of inspiration that can leak into our deepest darkest anxieties. I'm writing what I know here and I feel that these are very common threads. So I hope the listener can relate on a human level.
Do you have a favorite song from 'The Future is Fiction?' Which one is the most personal to you?
Yes, that would be the closing song "Flare". It is very personal, written from me to someone I love. Following the theme the song addresses anxiety and feelings of hopelessness but offers the analogy of a flare in the night, calling for help. There may be some very dark nights but ultimately we don't have to face them alone. It's a pretty stripped-down piano ballad and Mr. Stringfellow absolutely kills it on the vocals. So yeah check it out!