Album Review: Ceramic Animal – Sweet Unknown

Easy Eye Sound's new signings Ceramic Animal release 'Sweet Unknown' on March 4th

The Breakdown

The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach's new signings Ceramic Animal hit the high notes straight off the bat with new album 'Sweet Unknown's blend of reflection and comforting familiarity.

New signings to Black Keys’ frontman Dan Auerbach’s fledgeling Easy Eye Sound label Ceramic Animal release their new album, ‘Sweet Unknown’, on March 4th. Hailing from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Ceramic Animal’s previous three albums have all been ruggedly self-released DIY efforts, with this, their fourth, being their first foray into outside label-dom. Also produced by Auerbach, the album is a blend of gorgeous, scintillating melodic rock with some seriously hypnotic pop sensibilities, country-folk embellishments, a touch of seventies lounge, and a laid back Americana vibe which belies the sometimes dark nature of the lyrics.

Leading off with the release of first single and title track, with accompanying mellow-and-moody video, this week, ‘Sweet Unknown’ is an album of ‘proper’ songs. Guitar-based in the same raconteur, storytelling way as Todd Rundgren or Tom Waits, Ceramic Animal focus on songwriting and melody, with a dash of 70’s psych and the shimmer and glam of Bowie, T-Rex, and Mott the Hoople. Alongside, there’s the aforementioned Rundgren and the chilled Stones of ‘Sticky Fingers’ or ‘Exile on Main Street’; and then there’s that Americana vibe, and some flashes of contemporaries like The War On Drugs or Kurt Vile or, yes, in places Auerbach’s Black Keys themselves.

Formed around three brothers – Chris Regan (vocals/guitar), Erik (drums), and Elliot (Vocals/keys), along with childhood friend Anthony Marchione (guitar) and Dallas Hosey (bass/vocals) – and recorded at Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville by Auerbach, ‘Sweet Unknown’, like the Digressions’ recent ‘Beyond Nostalgia and Heartache‘ and The Replacements and Tom Petty before them, is one of those albums that feels exciting and fresh and yet totally familiar and comforting all at once. It’s an honest, open record, dealing with trauma, isolation, and loss – the Regans’ father (and biggest supporter) passed away just before the recording of the album – but never in a melancholic way; ‘Sweet Unknown’ is reflective and mellow, sure, but relatable, friendly, and warm at the same time.

Photo: Lauren Khalfayan

‘Sweet Unknown’ the single is out now; the album is released on March 4th. Ceramic Animal are currently on tour in the US.

Track Listing:

  1. Tangled
  2. I Can’t Wait
  3. I Love A Stranger
  4. Long Day
  5. Forever Song
  6. Sweet Unknown
  7. Up In Smoke
  8. Private Dancer
  9. I Don’t Wanna Wait
  10. Valerie
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