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Noah Gundersen's WHITE NOISE

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A lot of great music has come out this year, but I think it’s safe to say my favorite new album of 2017 dropped the first day of fall, and I’ve listened to it daily since its release. That album would be White Noise by Noah Gundersen. Noah Gundersen has been one of my favorite artists since 2010, when his music was coffee shop folk with deep and honest lyrics. In the seven years I have been listening to his music, Gundersen has matured in his craft—but I was still not prepared for what a ride White Noise would be.

From the first track “After All (Everything all the time)”, you’re hit with heavy distortion on the guitar, and a slow driving drum beat that carries you into the first verse. The vocals float in a bed of reverb that feels spacious, but not overdone. It sits in this really awesome rise and fall while maintaining a steady build towards the end of the song. Even his sister Abby’s signature violin sounds like nothing I’ve heard before—and I love it. The album moves on to “The Sound” and “Heavy Metals” which are chock full of just the right amount of Synth, and guitars that are straight forward and bright in the mix. Right from the start, White noise sounds like a throwback to the kind of rock and roll they just don’t make any longer, while simultaneously sounding new and like nothing I’ve heard to date.

Source: NoahGundersenVEVO

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One of my favorite parts about White Noise, and Gundersen’s new sound, is the driving force of it all. In his past work, Gundersen’s focus has been his staple tool as a lyricist. This aspect is by no means lost in the new album, but I was really impressed with the emotional rise and fall he captures with sound alone. Songs like, “Cocaine, Sex and Alcohol”, and “Wake me up, I’m drowning” Have great moments of building layers and tension, that then drop off and leave room for Gundersen’s intimate vocals to hit home, really making you pay attention to what he’s saying. The songs then charge right back into this wall of sound, which is really satisfying. “Wake Me Up, I’m Drowning” might be the king of the emotional rise and fall on White Noise, and its heaviness was one of the biggest surprises for me on the album. This skill to bring listeners to a singular emotional place within his music, is the mark of not just a good songwriter, but someone who has years of experience playing for live audiences, and an understanding of how to curate a dynamic sound from first song to last.

As you get further into the album, you get a taste of that old Noah Gundersen with songs like, “Bad Desire” and “Dry Year”. “Dry Year” is one of those songs that is so “hit the nail on the head” honest with its lyrics, it makes my heart hurt. It’s very Bob Dylan in the best way, and gives you a full glimpse of how wise beyond his years Noah Gundersen truly is. The Album then ends with “Send the rain” Which is just a masterpiece of a song. It’s a perfect blend of old Noah Gundersen and new. The song starts off so quiet you can hear Gundersen take a deep breath as he begins to play the acoustic guitar, and his first verse is simple and raw. It’s such an intimate start, there is this feeling like you should hold your breath while he’s singing. The song then builds, almost cinematically, into this completely enveloping, crescendo of sound you were greeted with at the beginning of the album.

Photo by Sarah Miller

White Noise is one of those albums I never want to hit shuffle on. It’s an impressive listen from first track to last, and I find myself taking the long way home so I can hear one more song. Noah Gundersen has created a piece of work full of depth and complexity without anything flashy or overdone; just damn good musicians and time well spent in the studio to achieve the right balance. I had the pleasure of seeing Noah Gundersen on tour to support White Noise in October, and it was a concert I’ll never forget. Yet this album still holds up strong even to the live version. White Noise is a completely successful departure from his previous work, and I can’t wait to see where this new sound will take Noah Gundersen in the future.

Buy and stream White Noise here:

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