Album Review: Sounds Like Whisk by MISC.

 In Features, Reviews

Strap in, everyone. This new record from Richmond upstarts MISC. is a certified behemoth for those bold enough to dare its heavy melodic dissidence. Call it rap rock. Call it funk metal. Call it a throwback. Doesn’t matter. What you need to do is call it like it is: a breath of fresh air in the Richmond scene. With their debut album Sounds Like Whisk, MISC. present a unique take on a familiar genre, allowing them to carve out their own distinct space in a crowded music scene–a feat rarely achieved in the past decade. Whether it’s nostalgia or simply curiosity that draws you in, anyone who dives headfirst into their daring sonic array is surely going to come out with a newfound appreciation for their bold musical vision, one that is sending shockwaves through the local scene as we speak.

For those with a penchant for heavy sounds, this album is an exhilarating adventure, overflowing with mind-bending riffs and rhythms that defy genre boundaries with their masterful precision and powerful energy. Each track charts its own course, carving deep grooves within craggy musical landscapes and providing ample space for the band to unleash their raw power. Take, for instance, “Locomotive,” where the band settles into a nice hard rock rhythm sharpened by a crackling riff. However, instead of following through conventionally, they astound listeners by subverting expectations with a dynamic bridge–a funk duet characterized by slapping bass thwacks and guitar notes that bounce wildly over the wah-wah pedal.


Much of the record unfolds in a similar fashion, with tricky and crafty compositions that showcase the individual talents of each member, allowing their skills to shine through brilliantly. Isaac Miao’s drums roar with decisive authority, ensuring that vocals, guitar strums, and bass slaps reverberate with pristine clarity. Sterling DeMascio’s bass notes wreak the best type of musical havoc over the grooves, helping them counter-balance the vocal barrage with their own melodic rumble. Connor Loftis’ guitar work is as clear as you could want from a sound like this, utilizing distortions to bolster the sound while still letting all the little intricate tricks ring out with audible distinction. These three parts by themselves are a winning combination, illustrated best on the intriguing instrumental interlude “Weeping.” However, it’s the vocals that elevate the music from refreshing music in the background to a commanding force that demands your undivided attention.

Incorporating a modern cadence uncommon in this genre fusion, Matthew Koon’s vocals brace each track with vigor and determination, amplifying the impact of every memorable groove and scorching riff. Lyrically, there’s much to sift through, some of it connected by stray observations or feelings and others by a flowing literary sense that yields some of the album’s sharpest moments (“I thought the motive was love/ But how can my vices have motives”). Initially, the lyrics may appear as subtle undertones, blending cheeky asides with clever wordplay that echoes the unyielding energy of the instrumental backdrop. However, this approach serves to build momentum, expanding the potency of both lyrics and vocals while engaging the listener’s palate to fully absorb its piercing intensity.


As the record unfolds, the vocals gradually intensify, moving from rhythmic embellishments over quaking instrumentals to taking full charge of the musical frenzy. The aggressive delivery of “Run” punctuates the bracing mania of “Willow,” while the latter part of “Ape” sees Koon’s vocals fully embracing the intense fusion of hip-hop, punk, funk, and metal. The vocals and lyrics reach their peak on the final track, “Days Of The Weak,” a daring reinterpretation of classic alternative that filled radios a lifetime ago. This track distills the boiling discontent of the world with four distinct vocal releases that punctuate the silence with clarity and force: “Uh,” “Fuck,” “Fight back,” culminating in a primal roar.

The sound presented here is delightfully subversive, drawing on familiar elements from the musical landscape of the ’90s while infusing it with modern irony and also sincere depth. Rather than conflicting, these elements complement each other, amplifying the thematic restlessness. Although this type of sound is most electrifying in a live setting, the recording, captured by the team at Elephant Ear Studios, vividly captures the essence of their expressive art. It presents a compelling portrayal of poignant exasperation through bold musical fusions and trenchant lyrical escapades. Above all though, the folks from MISC. excel at crafting a versatile sound that can either fill your void with clever wit and memorable solos or ignite your rebellious spirit with a contemporary twist on timeless frustrations. Regardless, this is a winning record that deserves an immediate spot at the top of your playlist.

Sounds Like Whisk is available now on streaming platforms, which you can access by clicking here. MISC. is celebrating the release of this album with a concert tonight, March 22nd at Richmond Music Hall alongside Wrong Worshippers and Dayfiction. You can find more information on that show by clicking here, or by viewing show flyer below.


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