The Werks want you to take a trip with them. No, not that kind. This the kind of trip that The Amboy Dukes, The Moody Blues, Curtis Mayfield and others have suggested in the past: a trip within. Specifically, The Werks want you to journey with them Inside a Dream, the band’s fourth studio album, released today (Friday, November 20th).
And what a trip it is! This elaborate 11-song opus winds its way through the dream, stopping along the was to make various stops. One of your jobs will be to try to put some order to the words the band uses to describe themselves: psychedelic dance jam funk rock. Ready? Go!
You can’t do it! Each song presents a different facet of the band’s make-up. The Werks truly cover all the bases. Chris Houser’s guitar is searing, a standout immediately on the first track, “The Answer.” Dan Shaw shines through shortly thereafter on “Drop,” his chunky-funky organ riding the tune. And organ and synthesizer intertwine on “Opus 66,” a great instrumental. “For You” highlights bouncy vocals and a lilting melody.
Music of this stature simply cannot stand without a powerful rhythm section, and Dino Dimitrouleas and Rob Chafin on bass and drums are two of the very best, as any festival-goer will testify. Listen, for instance, to Chafin’s perfect snare accompaniment to Shaw’s piano on “Give or Take.” Songs such as this one approach pop from the intelligent side.
Over the years, The Werks have become less an instrumental band and more a band with great balance between the vocal and instrumental parts. No better evidence exists than two superb vocal tunes back to back (and everybody sings): “Find Your Way” and “Inside a Dream,” a simply gorgeous ballad riding atop Shaw’s organ. Dino delivers a massive groove here, and Shaw takes a wonderful drawn-out solo on piano, then organ; Houser then steps up the pace before a beautiful coda.
“Find Your Way” is driven by an amazing heavy funk/rock riff, Houser blazing away. There is a superb long jam here, punctuated by Chafin’s pounding drums. And the tune ends with an album turntable coming to a stop: nice!
Elements of songs by The Werks may remind you of other bands on the scene (given that it is impossible for this not to happen), and “Alive” is certainly a great example. Amazing piano work and ensemble and harmony vocals dominate.
“Not Alone” is yet another outstanding vocal song, with synthesizers and guitar dancing in and around the tune, heading toward a jammy trance-dance. Dino again is a beast, and Chafin’s beats are relentless.
The band settles into a nice easy funk groove for “Transformational,” more great vocals interspersed with rocking guitar. And the band ends the dream state with “Waiting Room” — and an alarm clock! This has been a most pleasant journey for sure!
The band has been touring to promote the release this album with their compatriots Twiddle. Obviously, that would be the Twerk tour! The album release party tonight is in their home town of Columbus OH.
Nov. 20 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
Nov. 21 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
Nov. 25 – Dayton, OH – ‘Werksgiving’ at Oddbody’s
Nov. 27 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Rex Theater
Dec. 18 – New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
Dec. 30 – Covington, KY – Madison Theater
Dec. 31 – Covington, KY – Madison Theater
Jan. 02 – Lakeland, FL – Hometeam New Year’s Rally
Jan. 06 – Miami, FL – Jam Cruise 2016
Here is the band’s official press release for the album. It will be great to have the lyric sheet to use as a map on this journey, which you will definitely want to take more than once:
With their 4th studio album, Inside a Dream, set to be released on November 20th, genre benders The Werks take listeners on a track-by-track musical voyage through the heart of a dream; into their own hopes, fears, and aspirations. The seasoned jam-centric quartet brings a sonically superior mix of otherworldly explorations and revelatory lyrics to this artistic and mature musical statement.
The journey begins with a quest for “The Answer” to life’s most tantalizing questions. To decide ‘what is right’ requires introspection, expressed through passionate lyricism and emotional guitar work. After this dive inward, the group brings the funk with the auspicious track “Drop”. Light, bright, and full of bumping bass, “Drop” is brimming with the endless possibilities of what lays ahead.
Free feelings of fantasy turn more frantic and fearful through the tension and release of “Opus 66”; a modern progressive retake of a Chopin classical piano piece. Then the warming scene of acoustic piano and B3 organs back the enthusiastic track “For You”, a spirited ode to those who move us most in life.
“Give or Take” is the album’s surprise – lessons of life unfold over a poignant and spacious backdrop, unexpected from a band that jams. There’s a polished simplicity here, and crossover appeal suitable for today’s most ardent indie music fans. The urgent-sounding prog-rocker “Find Your Way” pleas that the listener follow their dreams along the individual path that only they can chart and walk.
As the title track suggests, there’s no time like the present to look “Inside A Dream” at one’s own ambitions and act on them before it’s too late. The importance of this realization is expressed on this total group effort featuring funky interplay between the whole band, including harmonious vocals, edgy synths and guitar licks that radiate the soul with the pure classic rock styling you might find on a Sting album.
With the rollicking and raw rocker “Alive” the quartet captures the joy of being in the moment, pushing through doubt, and living to the fullest. It’s not always easy though; reflecting on personal insecurities and feelings of isolation in the track “Not Alone”, the narrator ensures that trails are part of the shared human experience that gives existence richness, complexity, connection, and meaning.
The exploratory build and release of “Transformational” awakens the protagonist from revelry – assured that their own continual evolution is a necessary, normal, and beautiful part of being human.
“Waiting Room” closes Inside a Dream with soft harmonies and sweet melodies played along the journey back to the subconscious mind. Perhaps the most “quintessential” Werks piece, this dynamic odyssey hits a mystical frenzy before gently receding into the familiar sound of a morning alarm, and the beginning of the new day.
With this refined collection of songs, The Werks capture the full spectrum of the dream state itself. Through sanguine compositions that effortlessly transition from spacious soundscapes to driving rhythms, the album merges multiple genres in a style that only this Ohio quartet can deliver. Throughout the 11-track release, Inside a Dream remains raw yet polished, and emotional yet whimsical… it is within these contradictions where the depth of the band truly shines.