Dark Matter Halos: Acid rock by studio rats 

Dark Matter Halos have come up with an Indianapolis acid rock classic for the kids of today. Their debut album, A Tale of 10 Bells, quite literally sounds like no other local release. They are playing a rare show at Radio Radio this Saturday with Miles Nielsen and The Healing Sixes.

A Tale of 10 Bells starts out with the renaissance faire soundtrack "Bros. Roach" and goes right into the awesome, pounding "Golden Spurs," which sounds as if a Tusk-era Fleetwood Mac drank a bunch of mushroom tea. A couple songs ("EBE," "Dead To Rights") flirt with a conventional rock structure, while "Race of Kings" tracks a weird kind of Jethro Tull vibe and "A Shape in the Clouds" runs off into Beatles territory.

But one song, "A Rake's Progress," emerges as one of the better songs to come out of Indy this past year. Featuring monster drumming by Jeff Lee, this song lopes along with a breathy vocal counterpoint that builds to a gorgeous chorus. High points to Matt Sommers over at MediumFUSION studio for the rich, organic sound that really makes this one of the best headphone records of the past few years.

Regarding Sommers' production work, frontman Todd Cravens told me via e-mail that "Matt's approach to production is to complement the band and the song, rather than change it or put his stamp on it. Which, to me, is indicative of a good producer."

Bassist Sarah Cravens adds, "Matt also has a lot of patience and a great sense of humor, which is a must if you're going to work with a bunch like us."

Since Dark Matter Halos first got together in 1997, the band has solidified around the lineup of Lee, Todd Cravens, Sarah Cravens and violinist Susan Morris. Morris is the band's secret weapon, and uses her fiddle to conjure up many moods and colorings on Bells.

"We're an inclusive bunch and the songwriting is collaborative," Todd Cravens explains. "So it's bound to be different than anything we've done before. I think the main difference with this band is that there are a lot of layers within any given tune, as opposed to always being based around a guitar riff or whatever."

This upcoming gig is a rare outing for the band. "That's by design," Cravens says. "We're more interested in writing and recording, so we're selective about the shows we play, and we don't want to play our hometown too much. A couple of songs from the album are a little trickier than others to interpret live. For me, those songs are the most fun to play live because they're a challenge to pull off."

Also on the bill is Healing Sixes, the only Hoosier band to ever have featured Jason Bonham (son of John Bonham) in their lineup and who have a new song, "Fine Time" featuring Joe Bonamassa, that's currently getting some attention around the country. Also, don't miss Miles Nielsen, son of Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, who sounds like he was born of an union of Cat Stevens and The Carter Family.

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