Todd Underwood is an old friend of The Static Dive. The wildly talented multi-instrumentalist first appeared on the site in January of 2019. He was one of the first artists ever featured here. His single “Panic” introduced us to the Redondo Beach, California native’s unique combination of Progressive Rock style and Pop sensibilities.
Early last year Todd returned with a different vibe. On his album “Reflectings Acoutico,” he broke his sound down to the basics. We heard the songwriter alone with his acoustic guitar. There were no wailing solos or arena Rock drum fills. The record is a beautiful collection of quiet ruminations and mellow folky/jazzy experiments.
Then 2020 happened and the world turned upside down. Nothing made sense. All the peaceful folk songs in the world couldn’t put a shine on the worst year in all our lives. Of course, there was the overarching catastrophe of the pandemic which everyone in the world suffered through. And there were the other raging social issues from racial injustice to a dumpster fire of an election. But beneath all of that, there were 7 billion individual dramas playing out as we all felt the reverberating collateral damage of the year from Hell.
“Upside Down” is Todd Underwood’s new album in reaction to his own personal 2020. It is an intensely personal record. From the regret expressed in opening tracks “Upside Down” and “It’s My Fault” to the chaotic anger of “Coming For You,” the album represents the emotional fallout of 2020 from the perspective of one man’s life.
Under any other circumstance, one would expect a thematic album like “Upside Down” to follow a progessive story arc of some sort. However, Todd Underwood’s new album is the product of chaos. There was no happy Hollywood ending to 2020. As such, “Upside Down” is not a linear tale. It is conflict and conflicting simultaneous emotions.
For instance, on “Made to Be” Todd flips between an aggressive punk fueled chorus and a Police-style Reggae verse. He sings “Can we be together?” and then immediately contradicts himself with, “Now I’m thinking that I was wrong, and I should be alone,” only to reverse again shortly thereafter. That confusion of emotion and intent is the story of “Upside Down.”
Stylistically, the album exists somewhere between Art-Rock and 90’s Alternative. Within that framework though he experiments with numerous styles and sounds. Todd Underwood is an excellent musician on multiple instruments and pulls off intricate Rush/Kings X style arrangements. Early tracks like “In Your Head” hint at Power Punk/Pop. “Love Like That” features some nice Country/Blues guitar and “Sing Me a New Song” has Emo vibes.
The second half of the album gets mellow for a little while. “O My Soul” has a cool Celtic acoustic 6/8 swing to it. “I Miss You” and “Without You” are a nice pair of melancholy ballads. However, in keeping with the theme of the record, things take a dramatic turn with the wild Metal riff-rock and Screamo lunacy of “Merry-Go-Round Of Pain.” The record ends on the aforementioned angst of “Coming For You.” Just as the year that inspired it, the album leaves us without resolution. However, what “Upside Down” lacks in answers it more than makes up for in fabulous songwriting and kick-ass Rock & Roll.
I cut this album off at the end of 2020 and happened to have 13 songs… such a fitting number for this… but I cut it off because I need to move on to something else. I’m looking forward to an album of hope and positive outlook next!Todd Underwood
Check out “Upside Down,” below. You can also hear “Sing Me A New Song” on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Todd Underwood. Get in the loop on all of the current and future projects from this uniquely talented and versatile artist.