ALBUM REVIEW: Today Was Yesterday – Today Was Yesterday

The expert, intricate and intriguing Today Was Yesterday (Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group) finds the eponymous duo spreading their wings, unboxing various goodies and displaying many talents, in cahoots with guitar greats Alex (Rush) Lifeson, guesting on six of the 10 tracks, and Robby (The Doors) Krieger, on another.

This is a debut album, yes, but these are no beginners – veteran “sidemen” and “hired guns”, LA-based Ty Dennis (drums, percussion, programming) and Chicago-based Angelo Barbera (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, programming) met in 1997 and have played together and apart in various guises, projects and collectives for more than 25 years.

Now beating their own drum, and marching to it, confidently and decisively, Barbera (the primary songwriter) and Dennis have Prog leanings while citing Nine Inch Nails, Genesis and Peter Gabriel among influences.

A big, meaty sandwich of modern rock, what this very nicely produced album might lack in hard-won, hair-down emotion is partly made up for by sheer expertise, and an almost tangible confidence and belief that everything is being properly done and dropped exactly in the right place.

Are any of the songs memorable, stand-out bangers? Well, no, not necessarily, although “My Dog Is My God” and “Borrowed” perhaps come closest (no Lifeson on that latter track, incidentally). What is on offer here is a consistent, quality musical journey in the company of some rocky rhythm cops with real chops.

The bass and drum-dominated, shapeshifting “A Louder Silence” says “Art Rock”, “off-beat”, “synthy” and more than a tad “jazzy”, while the dreamy “On My Own” showcases Lifeson on 12-string and mandolin, among other instruments.

“Grace” (a song about the fentanyl epidemic, apparently) and the aforementioned heavy, atmospheric “My Dog Is My God”, with its fine solo, are probably the most riffy, Rush-like tracks, but there is much more to appreciate.

“I Take All” is one of the more “poppy”, more easily accessible, hooky songs, with another interesting guitar solo (Lerxst does not feature on this one, either), some smooth keys and, like several of the numbers, a tasteful touch of Steely Dan. The Bluesy, woozy “If I Fall (Silly Games)” allows the drums to create a nice pocket as it relaxes into a cool vibe and is boosted by Krieger’s slide contributions.

Before and since the death of drum legend Neil Peart and the subsequent, inevitable “disbanding” of Canadian powerhouse Rush, Lifeson has dabbled and impressed with contributions to several other outfits, not least Envy Of None. Is there any prospect of Lifeson and bassist/singer/keys player Geddy Lee reforming as Rush in the future, with another drummer completing the trio?

That is a question for another day. Today’s question is, are Today Was Yesterday an act for today, yesterday, or tomorrow?

Don’t make up your mind too soon, as spending time with this multi-layered album could well prove to be a more than worthwhile exercise.

Buy the album here:

7 / 10