Out of the 11 songs on the new Ed Hale & the Transcendence album, All Your Heroes Become Villains, there are only 3 that offer any kind of hope, optimism, or hopefulness: track 3 entitled “Solaris,” track 6 “Here it Comes,” and the album closer “Last Stand at the Walls of Zion.” The rest of the album is a dark heavy brooding downward spiral into the lead character’s disillusionment with everything in the world and his own personal life. From the album’s trance-hop meets operatic opening — which starts with a slow dirge-like rhythm and then builds to a climactic crescendo of dissonance punctuated by two competing melodies played by a trombone and guest vocalist Dee Dee Wilde’s gorgeous gospel-tinged wailing — all the way through to the album’s closing track, All Your Heroes Become Villains feels and sounds like the perfect soundtrack to the end of the world.
Song by song the lead character vents his anger and disappointment with the society he lives in and his own personal life, aiming his rage at everything from the political system (“Blind Eye” and “We Are Columbine”) to God and religion (“Waiting for Godot”) to friendship and romance (“Indian Princess” and “Messed it Up Again”). The climax of the album is track #10, the majestic seven-minute ‘suicide letter in a song’ the band entitles “After Tomorrow” (already a favorite among adventurous college radio DJs) where it becomes clear that the lead character has had enough of blaming the world around him and has turned inward only to discover that he doesn’t have what it takes to continue any further in a world full of hate, war, disease, crime and betrayal.
And yet amongst all this drama and pathos there is the beauty and hopefulness of the song “Solaris.” In their traditional Britpop meets post-modern rock style, Ed Hale and company deliver a near perfect pop song clocking in at three minutes and thirty seconds that shines a bit of light on the stage of their apocalyptic rock opera. Sweet and tender and yet mysterious, “Solaris” seems at first to be a love song. But the female character being sung to doesn’t appear to even be alive, at least not alive in the traditional sense; on planet Earth. Rather, the lead character sounds as if he is singing to someone far removed from all his earthly troubles, someone who is far far away, living in another galaxy or star system called “Solaris.”
Lead singer Ed Hale summed it up this way, “A girl I knew, someone very close to me, had just passed away. And I found it impossible to deal with emotionally. Right around the same time, I had a chance to see the DVD of this beautiful movie called “Solaris” starring George Clooney. This movie is a trip. Very slow. You have to flow with it. It was based on the book by Stanislaw Lem. Seeing that movie hit me at the right time. I had my guitar with me of course and while I was watching the film I just started strumming these chords and creating this song about my friend… What I did really, was just place her, Julia, into the movie… in order to bring her back to life for myself. I just felt that because it was unbearable to contemplate her passing that at the very least I could make her alive in some other form, like she’s still living but in a different dimension. So the song “Solaris” is me, or the lead character of the album I guess, singing a prayer to her or for her, talking to her… asking her how she’s doing… like “how’s life in your new world Julia?” It made me feel better. And although it isn’t enough to keep the lead character alive by the end of the album, I think it gives him some hope along the way to his final decision… like that.”
Ed Hale’s first solo album in years, Ballad On Third Avenue, has charted a lot of territory for the transcendent singer/guitarist in the last year. Upon its release the album went first to college radio and spent several months on the CMJ Top 200, a radio format very familiar with both Hale and the indie-rock collective he sings and plays guitar in, Transcendence. Being a softer acoustic endeavor, the album’s second single “New Orleans Dreams” then went to the Adult Contemporary format, where it’s enjoying spins on 200+ stations and still rising up the Top40 chart (currently #33). In October the album will begin spinning on Triple A radio stations across the country. “New Orleans Dreams” is the third track on the October 2011 edition of A Taste of Triple A compilation CD, a long running tastemaker series of “all things Triple A radio” founded by revered radio veteran Jim Nelson. The CD also features tracks by the B-552s, Indigo Girls, and Oasis’s Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
The plot thickens as the release date for the new Ed Hale and The Transcendence album, All Your Heroes Become Villains, approaches (Nov. 15th). The “Villains” album is set to hit College Radio on October 25th, and Alt-Rock Specialty Show stations on December 1st, both formats the band has charted in numerous times over the years. In the second week of January 2012 the band will release two singles simultaneously to two additional radio formats, the dark and heavy rocker “Blind Eye” to Modern Rock, and the lushly arranged pop ballad “Solaris” will begin spinning on Adult Contemporary radio stations. Of course there is a chance that Triple A stations may get in on the action and pick up on “Solaris” as well. One thing is for certain: there will be no shortage of Hale or his fellow bandmates in Transcendence on the radio over the next six months.
While Transcendence singer/guitarist Ed Hale continues to hole up in the recording studio with other band members working on his next upcoming solo album, Dying Van Gogh Records finally announced a formal release date for the long awaited new album from the band, the much anticipated concept album entitled All Your Heroes Become Villains. The band’s last official release was 2009′s The City of Lost Children, but it was a b-sides and rarities collection. Their last album of new material was 2005′s classic Nothing Is Cohesive, considered by many to be the group’s best album to date.
But the band and its record label hope to change that. The All Your Heroes.. album is by far the most commercial, provocative and ambitious collection of songs the band has ever assembled. From start to finish the album took over four years to record, with most of the band members working straight through the night for often days at a time. Recorded in Miami, Florida at both Hit Factory Studios and Dungeon Recording Studios, the album was produced by Fred Freeman (Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory) who also produced the band’s second album Sleep With You. Freeman purportedly worked the band tirelessly to obtain the best performances out of them. Lead singer/guitarist and chief songwriter Ed Hale felt that the time was right for the band to expand beyond albums that were mere collections of songs and instead attempt something more thematically cohesive and structured.
What came out of the process is the heaviest, deepest and darkest album the band has ever created, eleven mini-rock operas featuring a wide variety of instrumentation that take a sledge hammer to the band’s trademark Brit-pop sound and turn it into a whole new beast entirely. With song titles such as “Waiting for Godot,” “Blind Eye,” “Last Stand at the Walls of Zion” and the suicide letter in song “After Tomorrow” the album also offers a rich template of political, philosophical and emotional lyricism that is intense, thought provoking and at times sheer stunning.
The album will be officially released on November 15th nationwide and on November 17th in the United Kingdom. It will be available for pre-order exclusively on iTunes and Amazon.com on October 18th. The first single from the album is scheduled to hit college radio in mid-September and Modern Rock commercial radio stations on October 1st.