Manic Vision Shows Impressive Diversity With New Album 'No Change' May 31, 2021 16:56

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Birmingham-based five-piece Manic Vision has been making waves across the state in recent years, and their first full-length album is finally here. No Change is a culmination of over three years' work for founding members Andew Krist (guitar/vocals) and Hayes Laporte (bass), and the first studio effort to feature Benton Crane (keyboards), Aaron Kurz (guitar/vocals), and Carter Speidel (drums). After a positive experience working with Oneonta producer Brad White, the band called on their old friend for a unique "studio" experience to follow up. 

“Well for one, it wasn’t a real studio. Brad White, the engineer that did our first EP, shut his studio down some time after we recorded Tired Eyes. We really liked him and his style though, so we figured we could just bring him in to help us record and album in our living room. It was a bold move, but I think he did a fantastic job. We really clicked on the new album in a way that frankly just didn’t happen on the first EP," said frontman Andrew Krist. 

Krist added, "I know that personally, I felt much more prepared in terms of coming into the studio (living room) and knowing what needed to get done, how things would be done, what parts would go where, etc. On Tired Eyes, I think we just kind of had an attitude of “eh we’ll figure that out in the studio”, which turned out to be a bad idea. Also, Benton, Carter, and Aaron weren’t around for Tired Eyes. They’re all super talented musicians and have great ears. It was nice to have them there to say, “Hey...maybe try this idea,” and it usually worked out pretty well.“

The album kicks off with a mellow, ambient original called "13th Street," which features some especially impressive slide work from Krist. Up next is a catchy, rocker called "Stumblin' Bob" that tells the story of an "interesting man," to say the least. One would be remiss not to mention Crane's organ work here. It's such a nice touch and perfectly placed. I can definitely see this one getting stuck in my head and coming back to it, which is always an endearing feature for any song. Bassist Hayes Laporte leads the way on "People In My Mind," which is just a jammy tune from start to finish. I'd expect this one to be a favorite in the live setting. It's a super danceable tune with plenty of room for stretching out some improvisation.

The fourth track, "Left, Right?" really caught my attention from the opening notes. Solid guitar playing and an especially tight beat from drummer Carter Speidel. Krist's vocals really define this band's sound, and the little things about his delivery are truly pleasing. Kurz leads the way with another catchy guitar intro on "Through The Window," while Krist adds some tasteful, funky licks. Kurz also takes lead vocals on this one, making way for a change of pace and an expanded sound. Multiple vocalists always make for a more intriguing band, and these guys certainly have it down. "People In My Mind" showcases a more bluesy side of the band and some scorching guitar work from Krist.

Kurz hops back on lead vocals for "Gin River," a more mellow tune with plenty of "sing-along" capability. Crane comes through in the clutch once again with some killer playing on the Wurlitzer. The band saves the title track, "No Change," for the eighth and final track, and you can't miss this one. The guitar work from Krist and Kurz is fantastic on this tune. The transitions are dynamic, and it's as strong of a chorus as you'll find on the album. 

“Recording No Change was really kind of funny in hindsight. I had played maybe one gig with the band before lockdown, so aside from some jamming/practicing, the 8-hour days we spent in our living room sweating, redoing takes, changing songs around and really just experimenting was how I settled in with everyone musically. It would have been bad if they had realized that I suck right as we set off to create this album. I’m really proud of how everything came together and how everyone shines," said Kurz.

To be completely honest, my knowledge of Manic Vision was very limited prior to listening to this album. Through the power of social media, I've grown familiar with their name and noticed them picking up steam over the past few years. Everything I've heard regarding their live performance has been very positive, but I just haven't had the right opportunity to see for myself. That being said, I couldn't be more impressed with what I hear. After multiple lineup changes, the band seems to have found its groove with Krist, Laporte, Kurz, Crane, and Speidel.

All eight tracks offered something different, while keeping me totally engaged. The "jam world" doesn't always produce stellar vocals, but I really enjoyed that aspect of this album. I'll be looking forward to catching my first Manic Vision show in 2021, and No Change will most definitely be in regular rotation moving forward. Below, you can find a few more quotes from the band which touch on this recent studio experience.

Stream Manic Vision's 'No Change' in its entirety here:

“I joined the band right before we started recording this album. At that point, it had been months of hardly leaving the house and playing music by myself. It felt great to be able to collaborate with the rest of the band and help put the finishing touches on these songs.”

-Benton Crane

“I remember at the beginning of COVID, we weren’t practicing for a while. That really sucked. Taking away gigs was one thing, but the fact that we couldn’t even get together and make music just really hurt. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, since most of the songs on the album were written in that time. But when we finally were able to get back together, I showed everyone all of these songs I had written, and they all just came to life. People were adding small changes that just made everything better. Finally, I suggested that we should just record an album in the living room that we had been playing in for the past six months. That really made it special. We weren’t doing anything but writing and recording for the longest time, and to see it all come together finally was just awesome.”

- Andrew Krist

“Live audio has always interested me. I started taking recording and engineering classes during college and have loved applying what I’ve learned to our band. I really enjoyed the recording process of both our EP and album. I felt as if we were all very hands on (especially when recording in our house) and we could shape the songs the way that we had envisioned them. We’ve started recording every live show and are hoping to release a live album sometime in the future. “

- Hayes Laporte

Album Artwork by Cy Simonton: Cymonton Design