If you’re from Canada, chances are you already know about this incredible band. After all, they are already filling up stadiums in their home country. I also mentioned them in my list of the top five shows I’ve been to. Just like their concerts, the band is truly unique. “Too rock” for mainstream pop stations and a little “too pop” for rock stations, the band has honed into their own middle ground. Vocalist, Josh Ramsay, is a gifted visionary and lyricist. His attention to detail in their music production is profound. It has made their progression from album to album such a thrilling experience.
Debuting their first album in 2006, Fix Me, was Josh’s plea for this band and his love for music to save him from his own drug addiction. With songs like “Vertigo” and “Shake Tramp,” it’s not hard to see why pop stations had trouble connecting to Marianas Trench. They were motivated by angry guitars, heavy drums, and dark lyrics like “…little handshake tramp. And you hit me more, and my face is still sore.” Still, considering Josh’s dark history and battle with addiction, it’s no surprise that such deplorable lyrics spilled out of him.
The band released their second full length album, Masterpiece Theater, three years later in 2009. It served as the beginning of a new addiction that Ramsay would find himself attached to: concept albums. Being condemned as unmarketable due to their harsh lyrics and heavy sound, the band takes on a more approachable pop sound with songs like “Sing Sing.” The reformed sound is catchy without sacrificing their commitment to creating great and original masterpieces (pun intended, I’m sorry). Perhaps the coolest aspect of the album is their ability to reintroduce tracks from throughout in new ways with tracks “Masterpiece Theater I,” “Masterpiece Theater II,” and “Masterpiece Theater III.”
Marianas Trench delves even deeper into the art of concept albums with Ever After. Taking a twist on fairytales, the band strays into the fantasy world with both their tracks and their imagery. The album’s cover art depicts the four band members as puppets dressed for a show in the circus. The darker twist on Nysnc’s “Bye Bye Bye” is an appropriate choice as the album retains its pop elements while also incorporating some heavier musical elements in tracks like “Ever After.” Even in an acoustic version, the song packs a nice pop punk punch. The symbolic visuals continue into the bands music videos like the one for “Desperate Measures.”
In Marianas Trench’s most recent album from 2015, Astoria, the band rounds out their unique balance of pop and rock with 80’s inspired elements that were combined with Ramsay’s production from this century’s take on the popularly rising techno genre. Still concept in album and merchandise art (an homage to The Goonies (1985) and all things 80’s), the songs once again stand on their own like in their first album, Fix Me. The opening ballad, “Astoria,” is a powerful song that showcases Ramsay’s pipes as some of the strongest and most versatile in the musical industry. Even the more “pop” songs like “While We’re Young” are given more of an edge with Ramsay’s magical touch throughout production.
I’ll close out this post with one of the greatest things about this band: their live performances. I’ve been blessed enough to see the guys perform live three different times. Each performance has been like a brand new experience because of the band’s incredible imagination and commitment to making each show unique from the last. Josh Ramsay’s cheekiness is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of guitarists Matt Webb and Mikey Ayley. Their drummer, Ian Casselman, also adds a nice touch of humor to everything they do. Perhaps one of the greatest things about this band is that every member can hold their own in vocals, making them reminiscent of older bands from another generation like The Beatles and Queen. It adds a new layer to their live shows that not all bands can attain.