Fort Collins-based alternative/indie rock outfit Race to Neptune released a new single, “The Phantom Deep,” in early November. This latest effort, which has garnered airplay on radio stations throughout the country and overseas, bears a distinct ‘90s-alt influence.
The song opens with gain-heavy power chords, which a cymbal part parallels on the second pass of the intro. A second guitar part thickens the distortion as the first verse begins, and remains present for the rest of the song. The vocals of guitarist/lead singer Brian Maier emulate the desperation and angst of the likes of Chris Cornell, but a cleaner, more melodic quality sits beneath the surface.
Maier acknowledges that the sound of ‘90s alt bands—he mentioned The Smashing Pumpkins specifically—has played a role in shaping Race to Neptune’s work, but he also cites a diverse array of influences, including The Beatles, The Pixies, The Cure and David Bowie, just to name a few.
Maier appreciates the creative liberties music affords, and is reluctant to dismiss even the most eclectic of influences. “I love playing music because it has limitless possibilities and the guitar is a never ending canvas,” he said.
The new single is a testament to Maier’s willingness to explore that musical canvas. With its twin guitars and its deep drum parts, “The Phantom Deep” achieves a heaviness that both builds upon and departs from the band’s debut full-length album, Oh Contraire. On that record, the vocals and the guitars sound closer to The Smashing Pumpkins than Soundgarden.
“The Phantom Deep” marks a shift in the other direction, but retains “indie” elements that complicate reductive comparisons to Cornell and others.
Race to Neptune continues to work and evolve. The band is in the midst of a lineup change; the ways in which the personnel shift will affect the sound remain to be seen.
It’s clear that Maier, for his part, embraces the ongoing evolution.
“I am a bit surprised by how many like our music since it is more eclectic and diverse from what is popular in the area we live in,” he says.
Indeed, a large percentage of today’s popular music is watered-down, formulaic and short-sighted. But our local scene has long resisted those trends. So it’s no surprise that Race to Neptune’s “eclectic and diverse” sound piques the interest of music enthusiasts in Fort Collins and beyond.
Photo courtesy of Evan Clea via Brian Maier