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Stinn Weighs In: A track by track breakdown of Adam Beitel's solo record "Until the Sun Erupts"

by Matt Stinn

in studio photo by Simon Jasieniuk

When I was first approached to review this debut release from Adam Beitel, I made a few assumptions. The term “solo record” instantly had me expecting stripped down acoustic tracks. While this certainly isn't an album I'd hold against his band Banastronaut and call comparable, it's also not shy with the density of its arrangements. Until The Sun Erupts makes itself clear from the get go that this isn't the same Adam people have come to know through the band he fronts.


“2055” was a perfect choice to start the album due to the way it instantly sets the record straight about what you're in for. An atmospheric and clean electric guitar enters with a counter melody supplied by some flavor of synthesizer, all backing up Beitel’s familiar voice. The way his vocals are presented on this record seem to make a distinct point of differentiating themselves from his full band project. Softer, less edge and with a pop polish that instantly had me thinking back to early Owl City records. This track is a slow burn, warming you up and slowly introducing padded vocal harmonies, strings and even a bit of sub to add impact on the choruses.


The opening track gives way to “Home” - a track that instantly offers what I was initially expecting from this record. A heartfelt acoustic ballad where a singer lays themself bare. This track features Beitel's siblings on lead and harmony duties, overlaid on a massive chorus of stacked harmonies. This song showcases the magic that can happen when siblings harmonize together and perfectly captures their familial bond. Full transparency; this song wasn't my cup of tea. While it’s obviously well written and produced to maximize emotional impact, I think I'm just not the audience for this one.


The album’s third track “Ohio” had me from the get go with an acoustic guitar entrance accented by a lead contributed by an intimate sounding banjo. If this song had hard doubling on the vocals, I’d almost mistake it's intro for an offering from Sufjan Stevens. While I did find myself wishing that the banjo would step out of the arrangement after the initial lead and save the spotlight for the vocals, I didn't find its verse contributions distracting enough to take away from the strong lyrical narrative. This song has a stand out chorus accented by an extremely strong vocal performance. Just a touch of Beitel’s pop punk roots show through in the way he digs into the higher notes on this chorus and masterfully controls his vocal attack.


The album’s fourth track opens with a lyric that comes dangerously close to what I expect from him within the context of Banastronaut. “I don’t hate you, but I kinda wish I did” is a quip that plays into the acoustic guitar on “For What It’s Worth” and sets up for a more upbeat vibe than the album has offered so far. This song reads the most like a pop song with the hook “if i can’t hate you, how can I get by’ - and I’m here for it. Simple, enjoyable and not overworked.


“Fleeting Moments,” the album’s fifth track and first single is described by Beitel as “perhaps the most expansive song on the album." This is not an understatement. What starts as an acoustic track very quickly finds itself in film score territory with dense strings, synth pads and percussion accents. While I feel like this song definitely falls into the “not my cup of tea” territory, there is no denying the emotional impact that the arrangement and vocal performance convey. For all the same reasons I'm not a fan of this track, it would work great in the sync/licensing sphere for indie film scores or ad placements. A standout thing to me on this track is the weight that the arrangement managed to have without feeling bloated in the low end. This is both a comment on Beitel’s skills as an arranger and on what engineer Simon Jasieniuk brought to the table.  


Song six, “See You In The Sky’ is a power ballad and doesn't pretend to be anything else. From the start, the larger than life piano sound frames the tangled lead vocals lines of Beitel and his guest Katelyn Lehner. Hearing Katelyn occupy a guest role is certainly an interesting juxtaposition to her usual larger than life attitude and performance on stage. She effortlessly supports Adam when necessary but allows her signature hazy vocals to push forward in moments when her melody is the focus. This song has a classic feel to it that is eerily similar to the Disney ballads we grew up with. To be clear, I mean this as a compliment. 


“Buried”, the album's eighth and final track is a weird one. The opening guitar line takes an angular turn on its third chord that tonally is very reminiscent of early Panic! At The Disco. This almost unsettling change is emphasized further on the first chorus when an undeniably Spanish sounding nylon-stringed guitar enters. By chorus two, this track hits a full drum kit that features bombastic room tones with more ambience than fundamental weight. Just when this track feels at its largest, a rather over the top flamenco inspired guitar solo comes in and I’m here for it. While these are certainly bold moves from a production and arrangement standpoint, I think they serve the energy of the song well.  Sticking with the track’s theme of unexpectedness, “Buried” ends with a sudden drop out of all instrumentation and a final dry vocal. This sort of “sucking in” effect is sudden, shocking and again, catches me in a good way. While this track feels the most out of place on the record to me, I also enjoyed it the most.


All in all, the debut release from Adam Beitel is best described as bold. What could have easily stood on its own as a simple acoustic record seems to have found a more theatrical life in the artistic collaboration between Beitel and his producer, Jasieniuk. As a listener, I found many of these choices polarizing and I believe that to be a good thing. You can’t please every listener, nor should you. If you're looking for heartfelt songs, bold choices and sudden turns, give Until The Sun Erupts a spin!


You can listen to Beitel's opus here:

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