Mega Gem

A record to brighten up even the cloudiest of days, the debut from Denver's latest orchestral rock collective, Mega Gem, is a hyper collection of anthemic melodies and ascending choruses. The band, which boasts an ever-fluctuating roster of seven to twenty members (including guest spots by Princess Music's Tyler Ludwick and Two Tone Wolfpack's Justin Deloach), manages to maintain a certain rock simplicity in the presence of an epic collection of instruments, and it does so without ever sounding messy or pompous. Songs like "Puddles" and "Onions" contain an inspirational, Sufjan Stevens-like optimism, while "The Right Thing to Do" and "For Riassa" have a loud-quiet-loud polarity that redeems the at-times-overwhelming cheeriness of the album, exemplified by "Mia's Singalong," which features blindingly cute lead vocals, presumably from a little sprite named Mia.

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